I was supposed to reteach federalism that day. It's always a hard topic for me to teach and for the kids to learn, though I still haven't quite figured out if it's due to lack of vocabulary, difficulty differentiating between country and state, or just the frustration felt during our entire government unit—the longest and hardest unit of the year.
Regardless, no federalism was going to be taught that day... because we were going ice skating. I like to think that I'm a "fun" teacher, but an ice skating field trip for the whole day, the week before a two week holiday break? Even with our PE teacher as chaperone, it did not feel very educational, or like a very good use of time. I was being kind of a Grinch.
But then my students tentatively wobbled onto the ice, and my heart grew three sizer larger. I saw teamwork as students pulled their classmates around the rink, grit as they pushed past their fear to fall and then get up again and again, and maturity as they interacted with the other children and adults at the rink that day. I watched my lowest Special Education student confidently zoom past his peers while some straight-A students never let go of the railing, and it reminded me that everyone has different talents that I might not get to witness every day. And I felt the joy of every single one of my students as this experience became a trip they will remember enjoying with their team and family.
Returning from winter break is hard. The countdown resets to triple digits, with only benchmarks and more benchmarks to look forward to. But the teamwork, grit, and confidence are already present in our students—now it’s up to us to tap into those traits and pull them into our subject areas as the challenges get more difficult in the second half of the year. We can do this!