What’s that feeling?

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My teaching partner, Sara, and I met at school yesterday. We sat in her classroom and thought and talked through a “typical” day’s schedule. Subject by subject. Transition by transition.

“Will kids be able to turn in paper homework?”
“How will we “gather” for our morning meeting?”
“Can we get bottles of sanitizer for the classroom library area?”
“If we read outside, what do we need to bring with us?”
“What will snack look like? How can kids be 6 feet apart in the room? Will some be eating on the floor?”
“Can kids turn and talk? What will partner work look like?”
“What are some good times for movement breaks?”

and on
and on
and on.

It took us over three hours.

We had to pull ourselves off the dizzy ledge of “Ahhhhhhhh!!!!” a few times, but overall, it was purposeful and productive work–though it left us with piles of unanswered questions and some uncertainty about how this would all pull together.

Afterward I puttered about in my classroom, looking through new and old books, sorting and organizing. I’ve been reading Katie Wood Ray’s “Wondrous Words” (Finally! Yes (shame-faced), for the first time. No! Most definitely not for the last time!) so I have reading like a writer on my mind. I paged through books and organized, considering possible mentor texts and envisioning how I might use them with student writers. Envisioned how student writers might use them. I felt a sort of internal shift. Something felt foreign. Different. Almost… anticipatory?

After a bit, I realized this moment reminded me of the scene from Kate DiCamillo’s Tiger Rising when Rob is running in the woods with Sistine, wondering what it is that feels different.

“Then Rob remembered the name of the feeling that was pushing up inside him, filling him to overflowing. It was happiness. That was what it was called.”

Oh. Yes.

Now I remember.

This is what excitement feels like. That’s what it’s called.

in my classroom
sorting books
excitement
nudges anxiety
to the side

22 thoughts on “What’s that feeling?

  1. dmsherriff says:

    I saw those last 5 lines on twitter last night and my first thought was, yes! Happiness, excitement can conquer the fear and the anxiety! I loved reading the story behind those lines here. I think when we have conversations with others it can lead us to the place where we can be open to the positive possibilities that the future does hold! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Everything about the beginning of this year feels so tentative, but it was such a welcome change to feel a surge of positive emotion. I’m hoping I can hold onto the feeling!

      Like

  2. I feel like embroidering your words on a sampler; “excitement nudges anxiety to the side.” Love that! I also appreciate your description and reminder of the value of talking through issues and uncertainties with a trusted colleague.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I am so lucky to work with wonderful colleagues! It really was so helpful to talk through a day and troubleshoot. Even having a concrete list of questions feels like a step forward.

      Like

  3. Yes! My anxiety was pushing my usual start of school year excitement to the side until the night before school started when I started to get that back to school excited feeling. We had our first 7 days virtually and even that was exciting and I am already starting to know and love these students. Phew!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Janet F. says:

    I love that you have a colleague who can help you and is like-minded. I would love to know what ideas you came up with. And your poem is an important one. I gather in Maine you are going to be either in class or hybrid? Thanks for your post. I would be feeling a combination of excitement and true worry. How to make an old-fashioned physical space minus a lot of the materials I use work for all kids. Honestly and this is hard to admit in public, I am glad I am old and I don’t have to go in. You are all worthy of huge admiration and hugs. People who don’t realize what you are up against never taught. Have you seen Kylene Beers’ fb post a letter to teachers? I shared it with my own note. Here is mine. PS I taught for 40 years and still sub and tutor (though not right now due to virus). My heart aches for all. My little grandgirl goes to pre-k and they are having in person 5 day a week for now. It’s a private school in Penn. with all others surrounding it online. I figure it is only time before they can’t go in. And she does not like Zoom session. They had those for the daycare groups where she has gone since she was about 9 months old……Good luck to all. I honor you so.
    From my fb post: “eachers, Kylene knows and leads and supports. Listen to her words. There are others out there who are retired or former teachers who know what you are facing. You have our undying support and appreciation for what you are about to do this year. Remember these words, “this too shall pass.” I don’t know when, but I do know things will turn around and hopefully we will all be wiser and stronger and kinder. Wishing you all the best of luck as you begin this newer part of the pandemic journey. Our kids need you and you need to be respected and cared about and understood and honored. I am willing to hold your cape for you, too. You deserve it. Do the best you can and tell yourself it is enough. It will be. Above all be kind.” Janet Clare F.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janet F. says:

      I wish there was an edit button! It is *teachers (obviously) and also Zoom sessions. I am obsessive about correctness yet I make typos often.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. We will be heading back in a hybrid mode. There are still many, many unanswered questions about how this will all work but I am lucky enough to work in a solid district with fabulous administrators and colleagues. We’ll figure out how to do the best we can. It’s good to know that so many are wishing us well and feeling excited was a welcome change.

      Like

  5. Amanda Potts says:

    Yes!! We are in a state of suspended animation up here, waiting & waiting to find out what our school year will look like, what courses we will be teaching… I keep reminding myself that nervousness and excitement are really nearly the same thing, and I think just being able to get into the classroom will help – and then I will write your words, big, across the board:
    excitement
    nudges anxiety
    to the side

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Christine says:

    I loved every bit of your post – from your raw vulnerability about never reading Wonderous Words to tying this all to Tiger Rising! Such great wisdom here. Sending good vibes as you begin the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Adrienne says:

    We are still waiting for the details about what our remote learning will look like. We are all feeling anxious and I long for the day when my teaching partner and I can have those conversations that give us that feeling of excitement.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. margaretsmn says:

    I’m ready to feel that strange feeling again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Gail Aldous says:

    Molly, great post! Your emotions grabbed me! I love your tie in with Tiger Rising. (Great book!) I’m happy for you that being in your classroom, talking to your colleague, and thinking about which mentor texts to use led you to remembering what happiness is! Being in the moment is so important. Love the raw emotion in your poem! As the days go on I’m sure you will get more excited, happy, and you’ll feel the love surround you teaching your students.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love your verbs, especially the ending today “nudges anxiety
    to the side” Thanks for the school update. With a daughter teaching in the public schools of Massachusetts, I love to learn how to see how others solve a problem like Maria (Maria clearly being a euphemism for school!).

    Liked by 1 person

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