With a four year old, I don't have time to lesson plan, grade, reflect, research, call every parent, keep my house clean, run, eat well, etc. etc. Life is so much busier now...I simply can't do all that I did three years ago. I think the real reason I wanted a year off while we acclimated to parenthood is that I was afraid of not being "the best." I have always been a motivated little booger especially with things I love, so settling for less than the best is a difficult concept for me to grasp. But I'm learning to realize that the adjective "best" is relative. While I may not be the best teacher this year, I'm working hard to be the best mom for our new son, the kind of mom he needs right now; I'm striving to be the best wife for my husband--a supportive and consistent partner who has a firm foundation on Christ. These roles are my priority now; they take time away from my job, but I'm learning to be okay with that. I'll still continue to work hard every day to do what's best for my students and give them the best education I can but not at the expense of my family. So if that feels like mediocrity in the classroom, I'll just eat candy to cope :)
Three years ago I spent some of my free time creeping on teacher acquaintances CV's on the inter-webs drooling over their publications, their awards, their conference presentations...many of these were teachers under the age of 30. In addition to feeling like a stalker, I felt unaccomplished. I wanted an impressive resume like these folks. So I read, researched, wrote proposals, presented at conferences, drafted articles (that have never been sent), and networked like crazy in hopes of someday making it big in education...whatever the hell that means. The truth is, I really love that nerdy stuff, so it was easy to immerse myself. But my ultimate goal was to have a kick-ass resume, to be the best teacher western Nebraska had ever seen. I about killed myself striving for this; I quickly reached that burn-out phase by my last year in Ogallala and hoped a change of venue would give me a pick-me-up. Turns out, it made things worse. Last April I resigned from my post in Gretna and vowed to take a year off to give myself time to breathe. Yet, I find myself in a classroom again. This year is different, though. Instead of striving for perfection, I'm skating by on mediocrity...or that's what it feels like anyway.
A busy four year old, student papers, work commitments, and my own laziness have kept me away from writing far too long. Nevertheless, I'm back. I hope to be back writing more substantial posts on a more regular basis. Here's what's happened while I was away:
- Little man has begun calling us mom and dad intermittently. His understanding of family is becoming more "normal." I think he finally realizes that we are not leaving and we're not giving up on him. It's been a rough three months, and while we still have work to do, when I look back and see how much this little guy has grown, my heart swells. It's hard to contain my emotion on this topic.
- I'm hitting a teaching stride at my new school. I finally feel comfortable in the classroom again. Last year I second-guessed every decision, no matter how insignificant the decision was. A change of venue has been good for me. My students are challenging, but I like challenging. My goal is to engage them in a way that is natural and thoughtful without all the bells and whistles and entertainment. Currently we're wrapping up the play Our Town, a play that many students find boring and irrelevant. And while I'm sure many of students feel this way about the play, for the past few days while we've read and discussed it, 97% of my students stayed awake. This is no small accomplishment, so I danced out of school that day in celebration.
- My voice is still raspy and exhausted. I just finished a round of voice therapy and will visit the ENT again (I'm pretty sure I've paid her mortgage this month) to be told, I'm sure, that I just need to talk less and wait it out. For three months I've been unable to sing; this seems silly, but it's bringing me down hard core.
- I've cut my mileage down to focus more on being a mom...and guess what: I've come to enjoy running more without the pressures of training weighing down on me. Hopefully this elation carries through the cold winter months.
- I'm reading again...I've vowed to leave pedagogy alone for now. I'm currently reading Catching Fire and after that am hoping to pick up a copy of The Fault in our Stars. I just need to escape more often so I don't fold under the stresses of parenting and teaching and run away to Portland to become a barista.
The rest of what I could write most would find dreadfully boring...not that this post is riveting, but it does launch me back into a habit of writing. Stay tuned.