Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

There are times when I really just want to quit.  And so today, I did.  Not what you are thinking – I didn’t walk away from my job.  I actually took a really big step toward it.  As you may know, I have really been struggling with my class this year for a variety of reasons – all of which wear me down daily.  I have a bad habit of saying ‘yes’ more than I should.  I have the time to do more than more and I like to be able to lighten the load for my fellow staff members.  But I am really, really overextended and getting so little support and appreciation for just how much I offer.  So tonight, I said ‘no’.

In an effort to regain some balance and to get myself back on the track that I love, I will only say ‘yes’ to what directly involves me with my students.  I am not going to help out on building wide planning committees, or take sub time away from my class to view another school’s program.  I am not going to double book meetings on days when my homework club meets.  I am not going to take time away from this year’s students to plan for next year’s.

I am going to prioritize my 29 kids over everything else for these last months of school.  I am going to be wholly present for the tutoring that I do every Wednesday.  I am going to be wholly available to support my fellow teachers during my planning time when my students are struggling to be successful in specials.  I am going to be wholly present to plan for the substitute who will be working next door for the next three weeks as we shuffle staff to meet the needs of a special student.  I am going to be wholly present for my students.

And I am going to tell myself that it is ok, sometimes, to say ‘no’.

Tuesday February 14th, sort of

hearts-9Tuesday was Valentine’s Day.  We changed the tradition at our school and asked that students NOT bring candy this year.  (The saying around town is that our principal killed Valentine’s Day!)  We wanted the focus to be on friendship, kindness, and finding the good in others – not on sugar.

It went off pretty well.  There were parents who didn’t participate, either because they still don’t read the newsletters or because they were just going to do it their way anyway.  But for the most part it was a pretty candy free day.  Yes, things can change for the better.

So instead of sweetarts galore, I have the coolest word search puzzle that includes all of the names of the students in our class, a paper airplane kit, several glow rings, and hardly any trash on the floor at the end of the day.

That part of the day was a success.  But the dark cloud over my head has still not lifted as we struggle to meet the needs of the neediest.  I was reminded yesterday that school can be the safest place for some of our students.  When there is chaos at home, struggles and worries that are beyond their years, school should be the calm, predictable, and always loving place our students can come to rest.  I am glad that yesterday wasn’t as amped up as celebrations in the past.  But my heart still aches for those who deserve an un-amped up home.

Chaos

My guiding light the past few days has been the phrase, “Chaos is a good thing.”  I have been fighting it hard in my classroom lately, trying to eradicate the chaos instead of embracing it.  I embraced it this weekend and shifted my mindset to be okay with it.  As soon as I did that, I found that I was seeking my own solutions instead of quick fixes.  And the past two days have been much better.  There is still plenty of chaos but it isn’t negative chaos.  I am greeting it with open arms and then trying to work with it.  A far more effective method than greeting it with every tactic and trick in the book trying desperately to keep it away.

I had a beautiful 20 minutes at the end of the day playing with legos with a little friend.  With our hands busy making, he talked easily about himself.  He loves horses. He gets to help his dad each weekend at a friend’s barn where they have about 40 horses.   They will have more coming from Wyoming soon.  Together, they clean the horses’ hooves so they don’t get an infection.  He sometimes gets to ride one.  But you can only ride the ones who have been broken.  Those are my words, not his.  He struggled to find the words in English for what he did that makes him so happy as I filled in the gaps for him.  As I struggled to fit those darn tiny pieces together, pretending to create something intentional, all I was really doing was listening to him talk, just him. For twenty minutes.  What a gift.

Again and again,  I am grateful for these moments when I can truly connect with my students.   They are just so, so hard to find, those moments.  But maybe embracing the chaos will allow me a few more minutes to meet my kiddos on their turf.  I really miss their turf.  Their wonderfully and sometimes maddening chaotic turf.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

I wasn’t very nice today.  Twice within the same hour I found myself using the same phrase to someone else: “This is not my job.”

It’s in my nature to do more than I am asked, to help out when it is needed, to lend a hand, and sometimes to do more than others are comfortable with me doing.  So, I was curious today as to why I was so frustrated with others not doing part while I was picking up the slack.  Normally, that works for me.

Perhaps it is because normally those extra steps, the going of the extra mile, the offering up my services is done because I have time and room in my life to give a little more and make things easier for others.  And maybe what made me crack today is that my time isn’t being used in a way that feels satisfying at the end of the day.  I am putting so much into a really tough situation, way above and beyond what any teacher should be expected to do.  And in doing so, it takes me away from the things that fill my soul so that I do have something to give back.  My cup runneth dry these days from.  I need some recognition instead of assumption.

Sorry for my biting words.  I’ll be better tomorrow.