Today I had to say the two words no one likes to say. Because today I, the teacher, made a mistake.
“C’mon guys. We have a ton to do today. Focus!”
One student put her hands to her head to show she was thinking and had something to say (my kids don’t raise their hands).
She looked up and asked, “Why do we always have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it?”
“What do you mean?” I said, completely at a loss for how to answer this question.
She innocently replied, “You always tell us we have a lot to do. We always go fast. You say we don’t have time to do it all unless we go fast. Why? Why don’t we have time? Why do we have to go fast?”
“Well, we just have a lot of learning to do today,” I hesitantly replied.
“When will learning be normal? When will we not have a lot to do? Or will we always not have a lot of time?” she asked, her voice full of emotion. I looked her in the eyes and had to say the two words no one likes to say.
Today I had to say, “I’m sorry.”
Today I acknowledged that I live life in full-sprint mode until I fall over from exhaustion. Today I realized I make each one of my kiddos live life in full-sprint mode too. Today I was convicted by a six-year-old little girl who just wanted school to feel normal, not rushed.
Today I had to apologize to my entire class because I had valued the day’s agenda over them. I had let my fast-paced life overwhelm them. They don’t deserve that. They deserve a teacher who makes learning fun, not stressful . . . exciting, not tense.
Is urgency needed in the classroom? Yes. But all day, every day? No.
Today I placed urgent “things” over my students. But those urgent “things” aren’t what change their lives. The moments we create do. Sometimes we have to stop. Breathe. And let the words of a six-year-old girl convict us.
So here’s to a teacher swallowing her pride and apologizing to her students today. Because our students deserve our best . . . not the aftermath of our stress.
Katelynn is a passionate first-grade teacher. She earned her B.A. and M.Ed from SAGU and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education at Baylor University. To read more work by Katelynn go to her Facebook page “For the Love of 1st Grade."