Even though my life had been centered on family and welcoming a new baby, I’m still very much in tune to my other life, teacher and learner. I continue to read and respond to emails from school, talk to friends from work, and check in on projects I left behind.
I remember a conversation I had with our principal after a grade level meeting that I had planned and facilitated with one of our assistant principals. She made a comment that feels really relevant to me right now. She said, “it’s a great feeling to sit back and watch something great happening despite me being a part of it.”
After each of my maternity leaves, I’ve always been struck by how life just goes on without you. As much as you feel like an integral part of the team, the team manages if you aren’t there. Other players step up and they keep on playing. In the past, I might have felt a bit threatened by this, I can admit that now. I worried that my sub would be so amazing, they’d be sad to have them leave when I returned. Or that I’d somehow lose my game, being gone for so long.
But, this time, I feel really proud of the work that is happening around literacy, despite me. This time, it feels like the vision we have been working together to create, is taking hold and spreading. Just this past week, I received texts and phone calls about some great work that we had planned for the end of the school year. The staff at our school participated in learning walks during a faculty meeting, looking for evidence of “learning always,” a guiding principal adopted by our district. I heard about the energy and excitement that this experience created.
This week, teams will begin “June Day” visits to get a sneak peek at upcoming students. Grade levels will visit the grade level below theirs, to observe what students can already do so that when school begins in the fall, we don’t all start from ground zero again. Kids are preparing to pack book bags that will greet them on the first days of school in September, so that reading begins again on day one.
I also received videos of a schoolwide meeting to kick off a new and improved summer reading initiative, meant to get kids exciting about having time to read over the summer, without any prizes or gimmicks.
Good things are happening and while it feels strange to not be in the midst of it all, I’m enjoying seeing it all play out from the sidelines. I’m cheering the team on…
And creating new routines in my current situation. Inspired by Sally’s post last week, on routines, I have been trying really hard each day to fit in time for reading. Prior to maternity leave, I mostly relied on audio books to sneak in reading. But, I’m a firm believer that if you value something, you can find the time. I brought home an ambitious stack of books for my leave, pictured above. I’m proud to say I’ve finished Teaching Talk by Kara Prinkoff, after setting a little time aside each day to read (often in between feedings, cuddles, and during nap time). My hope is to also keep a journal or reader’s notebook, so that I can share authentic examples with teachers and kids in the fall. Now that I’ve put that in writing, I’ll be sure to update about my progress with my TBR pile and the writing. I have to stay relevant… so that when I go back to school in the fall, I have some fresh new ideas to offer all the rockstars currently leading the way.