Sunday, September 22, 2013
Four weeks into the year and the decline has begun.
The good stuff is still there: Teaching writing to kids is as much fun as I thought it would be. As a group these kids are sweet and funny and so easy to love. And I like only having to plan for one subject to teach instead of four.
The challenges, however, pile on like logs on a spavined donkey. None of them unusual or even that big a deal on their own. It's the one-more-thing aspect that makes getting through the days so difficult. Upset parents who go straight to district office when an email or a conversation with the teacher would have solved concerns easily. Forms to create. Forms to fill out. Letters to write. Emails to answer. Power point presentations to do. Curriculum night. IEP meetings and 504 meetings and SIP meetings and PLC meetings and PAT meetings. Special ed, speech, ELL teachers to listen to and schedules to accommodate. Test data to analyze. All done in the midst of construction next door (more than once we've thought earthquake) and a ventilation system that works inconsistently and part time.
The log that has the potential to drive the donkey to the ground? Fifth grade leaves for outdoor school a week from today—yes, on a Sunday. On a mountain with 175 kids (two elementary schools), few amenities, a good chance of rain, and no real off-duty time. We return late Thursday evening and the next Friday is a regular school day.
This is the life of a teacher. It's no different than it's ever been, except the demands grow each year with little taken away to make room for the new. More to the point, I get sucked in every single year. Trying to do and be everything to everyone. Believing somehow that this year I'm strong enough and healthy enough—enough period—to accomplish the impossible.
I was startled on Friday morning as Walt and I walked out of Starbucks into a brilliant red-sky dawn. Even though I could really use that extra hour at my desk, our Friday breakfast date is sacred and one bit of balance I've managed to cling to. The gift this day gave was far greater than quality time with my best friend husband.
A harvest moon smiled gently through a soft haze from the western sky. A mango sun lit the eastern sky and infused the world with pink. Fall flavored the air I breathed deeply in a sense of awe and wonder. Standing there, I remembered. Remembered that while I can't control the system or anything outside myself really, I can control who I am no matter what's happening. Not with determination or will or white knuckles. But with acceptance and surrender and prayer.
I choose to rest in the balance of night and day. To hold what's important closer than what's urgent. It's a choice I'll need to make every day, something I knew going into this school year. I forgot for a moment, but I'm deeply grateful for the moon's reminder.