Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day Three - the Purge

I felt the need to purge today - just get rid of mess that has piled up during the last 16 years. I thought I did some of that when I changed rooms three years ago, but I didn't. I think I just stuffed junk in file cabinets with the idea that I would get to it later. So, today was later.

It felt good to let go of things that got passed down to me with the admonition, "You should keep this in case someone asks for it." What???? If you can't specifically tell me what it is and why it is important, then it's outta here! Of course, now I'm sure one of my administrators will want some climate survey from five years ago that made its way to the trash can today.

One of my coworkers said that he was in a minimalist phase. Last year, he got rid of a lot of old materials, but this year, he is throwing out even more. He said he was trashing old textbooks and workbooks and deleting old computer files. He made the comment that it was difficult to do at first, but then he felt relieved.

I like the idea of narrowing my focus. Having before me only what I need. I always save, save, save "just in case." And "case" never comes. This year, I want to utilize materials that work not materials that are handy.

And I'll keep hoping I won't need my gradebook from 1998!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day Two - A Rainbow

This morning when I went out to get the paper, I saw a rainbow. Now, the remarkable thing about it was that it hadn't or wasn't raining. It was just there. And it made me think. Now, whenever I see a rainbow, I feel closer to God - kind of like He's sending the sign just for me. I really felt that He was telling me in His own special way that I have to move forward and focus on positive things.

Now, I recall my earlier post which cited a lot of spiritual references - divine intervention, etc - and I know that this is what I'm supposed to do. Now, whether the "this" is search for an answer or stay in education, I haven't figured that out yet. At least I feel better about the here and now.

One of my friends was talking today about being happy in the here and now. She said she had spent so long looking ahead at various milestones that she found herself struggling with the present. Hmmmmm...

My problem is that I've stayed so busy for the last 16 years that I've failed to pay any attention to the present. I've never slowed down enough to look at the present and decide if it really makes me happy. Keep in mind that I'm really talking about my career now - nothing else.

My first year of teaching was insane. There is no other word for it. I taught 2 classes of drama and 2 classes of video production at high school then traveled 30 minutes to a middle school where I taught 6th grade social studies, 6th grade art, and 7th grade PE. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I just survived.

The next year was only slightly better. I kept the same schedule at the high school and traveled 20 minutes to a middle school where I taught 8th grade science. That was the year I learned that I could do all that and begin the drama club at the high school.

The following year I became English full time. I felt like it was my first year teaching all over again. Within the next 4 years, I took over the newspaper. Three years after that, the journalism class added broadcasting. Two years later I was department chair and National Honor Society coordinator. Somewhere in there I managed to get my Masters in Composition and Rhetoric and get and renew my National Board Certification. There have been numerous interns and mentees along with Planning and Leadership meetings and Staff Development Coordinator responsibilities. Oh yeah - I also got married and had a kid.

So, here I am slowing down - or at least adjusting to the workload - and I'm questioning what I'm doing, how I do it, and why I do it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The End of Day One

So, I made it. I made it through the first day back, and I lost that hopeless feeling around 1. I was happy to see everyone but still felt lost - like everyone belonged there but me.

I actually shared my concern with my principal. He's retiring in December, and I will certainly miss his guidance. In fact, when he announced his retirement last year, I remember the depression beginning to set in. When I told him my concerns, he suggested that I look into administration. Ha Ha! Now, I think I would be a good administrator, but I have a small child and don't want to commit such an abundance of time to anything but her right now.

He says that he finds that most people need a change every 7 years or so. I agree - at least I'm certainly showing signs of needing a change. I just don't know what form that change should take.

On a positive note, it was really nice to think about something other than lunch or Blue's Clues today. Once my brain got used to working again, I was able to jump right in and go.

I really wanted to talk with some of the people who have been there longer than me. I want to know what keeps them in it. Maybe I'll find out.

Also, everything today seemed to point to a spiritual to live don't live to the shining star in someone's life...find the star in the students...divine intervention...God's plan. I heard all these things today; I even woke up singing a song with the line "Come unto me...all who are weary...and I will give you rest...Bring your hurts, bring your scars, bring the load that you carry...and I will give you rest."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day One or Ground Zero

I go back to work tomorrow after summer's vacation, and I'm trying to find reasons to continue in education. I teach English at a small high school in NC, and tomorrow begins my 17th year. Right now, I can't conceive of 14 more years, but I don't know what else I would do.

I guess the purpose of this blog is to find a reason to stay or find a way to quit. My plan is to write each day seeking out the good in education. At the end of my 200 day search, I'll be ready to make my decision.

This will be a pedagogical, emotional, spiritual, and personal quest. I'm growing curious as to what will come of it. I anticipate that a history of my career will unfold along with an examination of varying views on education.

I'm nervous about the outcome. Whenever I have found myself at a career crossroads, I've always had a drink and kept moving. Now, I find that I'm not able to silence the doubts and confusion. I'm a good teacher - I know that. I'd like to be able to say I'm a great teacher, but I don't think I can anymore. I'm afraid I'm becoming the "teach-out-of-the-same-plan-book-every-year" teacher. I've never respected those. If I've become what I hate, should I leave? Can I change? Can I love my job again?

We'll see...