Last Week

Last week was our last week of school and there were so many good things. But I was too overwhelmed and exhausted to write about them.

When we returned in person, back in March, we started ending our day (well, the end of the day for our couple of fully virtual students, still nearly an hour left for the in person kiddos) with One Good Thing. I gave every kiddo a small notebook to record theirs each day.

If I forgot, someone would always remind me. Often multiple students. And they frequently had multiple One Good Things. And hearing other people’s always got kids remembering other parts of the day they had enjoyed. It is definitely a tradition I’ll carry on to next year.

I need your help! ❤️

A few months ago I was honored as our district’s teacher of the year. To this day, it’s a bit surreal.

Now I’m starting to work on the application for Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year…

…and this is where you come in.

One of the prompts is regarding community involvement: “Describe your commitment to your community through service-oriented activities including work, civic responsibilities, and other group activities.”

I have gained so much from those of you who read this blog and support me–educators, students, parents, my family and friends. You have been a steadfast community for me the last eight years of writing good things. To date, I have written 1,234 posts (that number was too beautiful to round). I am passionate about creating a community of people who find joy in the little things–who recognize that every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day. Whether we know each other in real life or not, we are a part of this journey together.

So, the community I want to talk about in that prompt is you. Can you help me out? It would mean the world to me if you would fill out this two-question survey. The survey will close on Wednesday, June 30. Feel free to share it with others.

Thank you in advance.

Sending my love from Tulsa…

2021

Every time I sit down to write about this year, words escape me. There’s a part of me that feels complete and utter relief—we just survived an entire school year in the middle of a global pandemic, while remaining mostly in-person. Another part of me feels joy—SUMMER with the loves of my life. And yet another part holds sadness, as I remember that one more cohort of incredible young adults leaves an emptiness not only in our hallways but also in my heart.

As Jonas would tell me: “Sometimes we feel both happy and sad. And that’s ok.”

This is my jar of stones that sits on my desk at all times. When Jonas was born, I put 17 marbles in—an approximation of the number of years until I get to share my classroom with my son. Every year, I take a stone out to remind myself that I’m one year closer to sharing my second home with my kid and also to remind myself that every student is someone else’s Jonas and should be treated with the kind of love and respect I would want my son to be treated with. I don’t always get it right as a teacher nor as a mom. But my kid and my students help me be better every year, help me open my heart and my mind more with every new beginning.

To the Class of 2021: you have endured a senior year like no other. Thank you for opening my heart more and for inching me towards my calling. You are my integral. 🤓 I am so proud of your grit and tenacity. I am so proud of your love and light. And I am so very proud to call you one of mine.

May this new season be full of hope and joy. I, for one, know that the world is a better place with you in it. ✨

To all whom I’ve been privileged to share a classroom with—what a gift you are. Thank you for pushing me towards my calling. I hope you continue to bring out the best in people.

All my love,
Mrs. P

Final Fun Days

I’m feeling mildly overwhelmed and exhausted as we get into the last three weeks of the longest school year ever. Today my third graders took the second, and final, state test for this year. I am so glad to have that in our rear view mirror.

Now we can spend our days together reading, writing, exploring math through puzzles, creating elaborate projects in science and social studies, and generally having fun together. I don’t ever count down the last days of school. Even when I’m looking forward to the end of a year (and I won’t be super sad to see this one go), I also love these last days. The days that are freer and more flexible.

Lucky

Today was the last day with the majority of my calc kids.

I am way more emotional raw than I anticipated. I think this roller coaster of a year bonded us in a way that we couldn’t quite put our fingers on until today…for some reason.

I still don’t quite know what happened. All I know is there have never been so many tears shed on the last day of school in Room 2704 as there were today—from all parties involved. I know part of it must be the pure physical exhaustion from surviving a school year like no other. But there was more than that, too.

We read Oh, The Places You’ll Go! I gave them their spirit animal certificates (because I’m a 9 at heart). They put their fingerprints on my flower fingerprint canvas. I read them their goodbye letter.

It’s what I do every year. But it was so, so hard this year.

In second hour, a student I’ve had for the past two years read “An Open Letter to Mrs. Peterson” for her Create project. I had no clue she was going to do this. My eyes leaked about two paragraphs in. The letter was a page and a half long.

The rest of the day was wave after wave of emotions.

I feel too emotionally exhausted to try to write tonight how much these kids mean to me. I still have a pile of cards I haven’t even touched because I know I don’t have the bandwidth for them tonight.

What I do know is what Winnie the Pooh taught us: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

I’m so, so lucky to share a classroom with these world changers.

****

From the Open Letter:

It wasn’t until my junior year that I realized I didn’t have to be perfect to be worth something. I just had to be good. To others; to myself.

Mrs. Peterson taught me that

Math can’t teach anyone why it is so important to love in life. It can’t dissect the difference between good and bad, it doesn’t know why people deserve to be cared for.

Lucky for us, Mrs. Peterson does.

Serve+Create 2021

My kids presented their Serve+Create projects today! One young lady said, “This is such a great way to end the year,” which was exactly what my heart needed to hear.

My virtual kids participated in this project too. I just told them they’ll present on Zoom but had no idea how that would really go. True to form, they didn’t miss a beat and took turns describing and showing their projects.

I only cried twice today, you all.

So, looking real good for tomorrow.

Below are a few of their masterpieces. I forgot to take pictures in the first two classes. There are lots of Create projects I can’t capture in a photo: live musical performances, videoed dance performances, dance teaching sessions, and Twitch-like videos, to name a few.

Their Serve projects were just as impressive: cleaning cars for parents, helping grandparents lay sod, making dinners and cakes and breads, helping at elementary schools, picking up trash, serving those displaced from their homes, and more.

I love them.

And I’m so glad the world gets to benefit from their service and their creativity.

Ticket to Ride

The fab five (minus one) and I have played Ticket to Ride the last two days. Please picture it: me (5’1) and four teenage boys (not 5’1) sitting around a huge game board strategizing where best to play our trains.

We weren’t able to finish our game yesterday so we took pictures of the board, paper clipped our cards together, and decided to finish today.

In 12 years of teaching, I have never seen kids get to class/get “ready” for class so quickly. They had that board re-setup in a matter of minutes.

One of them raced in the room: “I’ve been waiting all day for this!”

I’m sad to announce they slaughtered me. Like…completely obliterated.

But I loved it. I will say this forever: board games have an amazing way of bringing people together.

Grateful for these four boys and for letting me join in on some Ticket to Ride.

(And guess what my boys wanted to play tonight…?)

Ticket to Ride, Junior!

Being Brave

Today I had a little darling get upset at recess. She’s usually super upbeat, encouraging to others, and excited about everything. So when I noticed her sitting by herself and sort of curled into herself, I got worried. I went over and she stood up and started crying. She was crying softly but she didn’t answer my questions.

One of her classmates came over and said, “I hurt her feelings. I called her scared.” He went on to explain what had happened on the field.

I turned to the girl and said, “You knew your boundaries. You set your boundaries. You know you. He might have different boundaries and that’s okay. You do what feels right for you and don’t let anyone feel bad about it.”

He wanted to apologize but she wasn’t ready to hear it. She went back over by herself and sat down again. I gave her a few minutes and then went and sat beside her. I told her Glennon Doyle’s story about her daughter wanting to get her ears pierced and then changing her mind. About how everyone told her to be brave and they meant to go ahead and do it. And how Glennon told her she was being brave by knowing what was right for her and sticking with it.

I pulled up Glennon’s books on my phone to show her that this story, this lesson, came from a bestselling author. I told her she had done the same thing as Glennon’s daughter.

I wasn’t sure if this was really getting through (still not, to be totally honest). But when we shared our One Good Thing at the end of the day, hers was talking with me at recess.

Apples

This beautiful teacher angel and the kind, kind words that accompanied it…

I keep saying “I’ve never needed summer so badly,” and I mean every word.

But today it really hit me that summer starting means this year ending. It means I have to release yet another group to their next adventure. It means this cohort of tenacious, kind, gentle kids will leave my classroom and maybe never come back. It’s the worst part of this job for me, an introvert—saying goodbye to the familiar, loving souls, knowing that I’ll have to take a big inhale and meet a new set of faces in a few months.

And then that angel…offering that apple…

And I’m reminded why it’s so important we release one group and great the next with pure joy.

But in between…we need summer. A real summer, a true sabbath.

Here’s to offering our apples for a few more days.

And here’s to the rest that I pray you all get this summer.

The cup teacher

The following is a story a kid told me today, to the best of my memory…

B graduated this weekend!

(Her brother, B, is a former student of mine who just graduated with a degree in…wait for it…music education!)

We were all having lunch together with him and his new girlfriend.

You came up in conversation.

My brother’s girlfriend leaned in and whispered, “Is that the cup teacher?”

So just so you know, you’re the “cup teacher” now.

And with that, we both busted out laughing.

I have personalized tumblers I give to all students who make a 5 on the Mock. Both siblings now have said tumblers, much to the younger one’s delight.

The kids don’t act like the cups are cool in the moment (maybe because they’re not cool), but I know most are proud of them because this is not the first time I’ve heard a story about the cups being saved for years.

And so I gladly accept this title of the Cup Teacher.