We all have expectations about different things. Sometimes our expectations are met, sometimes they are exceeded, and sometimes we are disappointed. That’s life and that’s how life works.

I have expectations of my fitness goals. I honestly hoped that I would be farther along. When I started focusing more on my health, I hoped to be in shape pretty much by the end of the year. But as much as I wanted it to be, it wasn’t realistic. And that’s not to say that I’m not in better shape than I was 6 months ago. I am, and I’m still working on me. But recently I had to adjust my fitness goals. I’m hoping to reach my halfway point by the end of the year. That is a much more realistic goal. And truthfully, my expectations aren’t that high. They’re based on the previous months, as well as vacations and holidays that have either passed or are coming up. I don’t spend every waking moment in the gym. I don’t just eat food loaded with nutrients. I don’t work out three times a day. (I don’t sleep as much as I should to be “healthy” either, but that’s a different point). It is simply not realistic of me to drop 8-10 pounds a month. I’m working on being healthy, but I still enjoy life.

I had a lot of expectations for how my first year of teaching (and student teaching) was going to be. Those were all thrown out the window through the pandemic and some other things. I remember a good piece of advice I’ve gotten when starting my job. Someone said to me, “Have no expectations for this year.” Obviously I think of expectations, but time and time again, they get turned on their heads. We spent the first 9 weeks online. Some of my kids never signed on or weren’t doing their work. I have met some of them today or yesterday in person and they amaze me with their knowledge. I have a whole bunch of flags in my classroom of different countries, and one of my students was naming many of the countries. Even meeting some of them in person threw off my expectations. They just looked different than they sounded or something else. I love my kids dearly, and I love teaching them. But I never expected to be teaching in the district that I’m in, and I also never expected to be teaching middle school.

In the same way, I’m sure that I challenge my students’ expectations. I’ve had the comments of “Oh wow, I’m taller than a teacher” already, as well as “You’re left-handed???!!!” I was super chill with my students, and they responded to it. Some of them kind of even mentioned that I’m not uptight. But most of my students do well, and they seem to like my class. So for that, I think I’m doing just fine and don’t need to be uptight.

Expectations can be a totally awesome and useful thing. But it is still important to remember that expectations can also be challenged, broken, or not even met. That’s okay too. When telling my students my classroom rules, one of the ones I mention is to keep an open mind. We can get stuck in our expectations and won’t learn anything new. Expectations by themselves are not bad. The problem with expectations is when we get set in them and refuse to learn or grow. Let your expectations be a guiding point, but let them be flexible. Keep them open to change and to what the reality may hold. Otherwise you can easily get stuck in a rut.

It’s okay to have expectations, but remember to keep an open mind. I doubt that any one of us could have predicted what the year was going to bring. But don’t let this year go to waste. Let yourself learn and grow from it. The nice thing is, based on this year, our expectations for next year will be so low because of this year that almost no matter what, it is going to be a good year. Yeah this year wasn’t what I expected, but I still received my diploma and got a job that I absolutely love in the field of my degree. These past couple of days, teaching in-person has made me incredibly tired, but I am reminded yet again that I truly love what I do. With all of the bad things this year has brought, it has also brought good things too. As we finish out these next couple of months, remind yourself to keep an open mind. Don’t put your expectations too high, and be willing to learn and grow. You might be surprised about what you can discover.

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