My students have been gone for 20 minutes. I am sitting amongst the piles and stacks that mark the learning day. The silence makes a whooshing sound that is louder than the buzzing of students at work. There is so much to do that the only way to begin is to pick something up and start. I pick up the absence notes that need to go to the office. I pick up the March Book Madness bracket that needs to be copied for voting tomorrow. I walk to the office with these things and take my water bottle to refill while I’m at it. I collect the materials I will need for the student I am tutoring in a little over an hour. I decide what is and isn’t going home with me. I won’t even start on these things until 7:00, so I know that much of what I’ve been carrying back and forth will make the same trip, or I could just lighten my load, be realistic, and leave some of it here.

I look up at the wall of windows across the room, and the sun’s brightness is reflecting off of the flashing along the roof line. I would love to take a walk again like I did last night. Wait a minute. I promised myself I would walk tonight. I definitely need to take more papers out of my bag. They will not be dealt with tonight. I need to get some exercise. I need to have a little down time, and as I reflect on my day, I know that these papers are not all important for the work that will matter tomorrow.

In fact, the most important part of my work will be what I did today, and yesterday, and most other days. The single most important thing I do each day is to be present. Today, I was in the moment. My students showed me what they were ready for, and what they needed from me. The day flowed from one activity to the next. Our afternoon was spent on many different projects, and students worked both independently and collaboratively, demonstrating the self-reliance that shows we are in the second half of the year.

I’m thinking about some of the highlights. One student brought her slice from last night. “I wrote from a dog’s perspective,” she told me with a smile that was both proud and shy. She had been inspired by our current read aloud, Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe. Another student gave me his story series to take home and read, because he wants me to give him PQPs (Praise, Question, Push). This same student discovered the program, Comic Life, and asked if he could teach the class how to use it tomorrow. “I think our class should learn it because it’s fun and they could write comics.” Agreed. Time will be carved out for this tomorrow. I taught another student how to make a recording on a Notebook presentation, and then that student taught another, who taught the next… At the end of the day, six students had learned how to make recordings of themselves reading a book to include in their presentations for conferences.

It was a productive day. It was incredibly busy. We were happy. I need to return happy. I will take a few more papers out of my bag. Most of what I need is on my computer. The rest will be here in the morning– twenty students waiting for me to bring my listening ears, watchful eyes, a smiling face, and large stores of patient, attentive energy. I don’t need my bag for that. I need a walk and a good night’s sleep.