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21 more things = 42

The last post was the 21 things I KNOW at 42. At the end I said I'd consider writing 21 more things to make it 42 in total & then ...


Atlantic City vs Career

I’m off kilter. Somehow the changes being made around me are affecting me in ways that I didn’t give permission. Before, the daily grind was a bittersweet adventure that brought about crazy observations, wonderful unplanned breakthroughs, and the opportunity for deep reflection and growth. It was both a pleasure and a pain, the skillful joining of 3 parts Art to 1 part Science.

That’s all changed. The Science seems to be taking over, pushed down on us by people who clearly don’t know what it means to teach, and enforced by people who once knew but are too deep into their mortgages, car notes, etc, to support what is right and risk life altering changes in their bank accounts and job statuses. I get it. I resent it, but I get it. While they’re doing as they’re told, things that I once did well are changing. One such thing is sleep. I have a wonderful, loving relationship with my bed and my pillow. There’s no real countdown until I fall asleep, no need to open pens of sheep or track how many songs play before my eyes are sealed tighter than windows in the winter. Don’t turn your back or blink twice--if my back is against the pillow-topped firm that is my restful oasis, I am officially down for the count. True to form, I still have no problem going to sleep. It’s the staying asleep that’s the challenge.

My upstairs neighbors and their commitment to surround-sound television at any and all hours of the day and night would wake me before my radio was scheduled to ease me into an upright position. Most times, I managed to angrily ignore them and at least cling to some state of rest until officially time to get up. Now, thoughts of work wake me up an hour, sometimes an hour and a half earlier than necessary. My mind is dredging through lessons past, conversations with teachers or admin, advice from the instructional coach, lessons for the day, something a student said or did, the disrespectful smell of yesterday’s lunch... It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s just all school related. And I’m over it. I don’t appreciate being held hostage by anxieties that are taking me away from doing what I do naturally both at and away from work. The things my colleagues (ugghhhh, I said it) and I do come naturally to us because this teaching thing is who we are, not just what we do. There is no Science to being yourself. And yet, I/we are second guessing and straying away from what we do as easily as breathing. I’m sure if someone added a rubric to the way I breathe, I would no longer do it as efficiently as I do now. Some things just can NOT be measured objectively, or in small snapshots. 5 x 30 minutes = 150 minutes. Our practice, our value, or skill is all being judged on a snapshot of 150 minutes out of the total time spent in 180 days. It’s a wonder we don’t all have ulcers.

Each day is subject to the circumstances that come with it. It could be the way a sickness has spread through your class, how many students didn’t eat or ate the wrong thing for breakfast, who brought toys that should be left at home and make a cameo during instruction, the weather and its affect on recess, family matters... Things that are often outside of our control come to roost in our microcosms of the school and community and we are held responsible for them. Good planning and delivery falling on [ADHD & ADD] distracted ears equals dead airtime. 2 years or 25, that’s hard to combat and make a stellar showing in front of an evaluator who neither knows you nor your students.

I’m not a gambler, but I feel like I’m being forced to take a crapshoot with my career on a daily basis. It’s making me more than a little uncomfortable. And I’m ready to fight anyone or anything that affects my sleep. It’s on.

Watch me move.

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