You Just Never Know

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It’s kind of amazing how making one decision can lead to so many unexpected interactions with people that are otherwise just co-workers that pass by in the hallways. I’ve never really stopped to think about how the people I work with view me because I’ve never been one to ponder over others’ opinion of me. After a lifetime of either being bullied, made fun of, or just always being the “weird one” in a group, it just becomes a necessity of survival (and sanity) to do my own thing and not worry about the rest.

However, there are moments when what someone thinks means everything. Especially, when they take to the time to pull you aside and say something positive … to your face. Back in October 2019, I put in my resignation for the administrative part of my job. I agreed to stay on to the end of the school year to finish out my contract, but for the next school year I will return full-time to the classroom.

For the longest time I felt like an utter and complete failure because no matter how hard I worked I just couldn’t do the job the way I felt it needed to be done. On top of that, it was so distracting, I felt like my teaching suffered as well, which impacted my students (the very thing I care about the most). There wasn’t enough time in the day, not enough coffee in the world to keep me energized, and not enough support from anywhere on campus. I was alone, exhausted, and overwhelmed. The final nail in the coffin came after doing some digging for information for an evaluation process. I found out the job I was doing by myself was done by three separate people five years ago. The positions were reduced to a half-day position due to budget cuts. No wonder I felt totally overwhelmed – I’m doing the job of three people, plus teaching.

The fact that I had resigned wasn’t announced publicly until recently and it turns out it was a pretty well-kept secret as it caught most everyone by surprise. People I’ve worked with for years have pulled me aside and said things to me I never would have imagined was going through their heads. I’m an oddball on campus, always have been (proudly so), so it never occurred to me that they would see me as anything other than that.

They think that I’m an amazing teacher that is incredibly skilled in what I do. That I’m always so energetic, positive and smiling. That I’m refreshing and always make people laugh. That my students talk about me all the time because they love my class and that I’m always “bouncing off the walls.” That I’m smart, organized, strong, determined, honest (okay, blunt), and clever. That I’m one of the best and they don’t like to see me burned out. That they believed in what I was trying to do for the program I ran. That I deserve better.

I had no idea and this is all overwhelming in a completely different way. I needed this. I can’t tell you all how much I needed to hear all of this.

Today, however, someone told me something that I’m still trying to process. The administrative team has approached several people on campus about taking my old position next year. They’ve all said no and gave the reason, “if she can’t do it, then no one can.” It’s the biggest compliment I’ve ever received and it just blows me away. I didn’t know I was surrounded by colleagues who felt this way about my abilities. What can I even say to that, except thank you. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for letting me be the oddball and having my back.

There are still three and a half months left in the school year and it will be a struggle to get through them. I am still doing the job of three people, still burned out, and still fighting to make it through each day. But, I feel a little stronger knowing there are people who see how hard I work and took the time to say something nice to me.

 

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c.b.w. 2020

Summer Plans

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I’ve officially completed my sixteenth year of teaching and it was a great year. My students worked hard and we created a fantastic community I hope will last in the years to come. We learned, we laughed, and then we cried when it was time to say goodbye. This sort of bond doesn’t happen every year, so I am particularly grateful when it does happen.

Teaching can be a demanding profession, but all that hard work pays off when students walk out of my classroom a little wiser and a little more confident than when they entered nine months before. Having summers off is pretty awesome, too.

So, what should I do with two months all to myself?? The possibilities are endless, especially since I’m starting to feel a bit more free than I have in the last few years. After dealing with so much loss (family, friends, and furkids have all passed away in the last three years), I’ve admittedly not been myself. However, it finally feels like some of those heavy clouds are starting to clear. I can feel bits and pieces of myself falling back into place. And its exciting.

My list of things I want to do is already likely to fill up more time than I have, but I like having options when I wake up in the morning:

  1. Start trail running, again. Years ago, I was a trail runner and I loved it. I gave it up due to time constraints, but now I think its time to bring it back into my life. The physical activity and time with nature did a world of good for me.

2. Start cooking, again. For some reason, I stopped cooking healthy meals and making salads. I’m going to pull those old recipe cards out and get away from those processed boxed meals.

3. Knit. Like there was ever any doubt this would be on the agenda! This summer I’m looking to learn some new techniques and add more socks to my already stuffed sock drawer.

4. Write. Also a no-brainer item for the agenda. I’m hoping to continue my haiku practice, but also to jump back into the query process for my novel. I haven’t given up on that yet and I have all summer to send out query packages to the agents on my list.

5. Read. I have a stack of “to read” books I can’t wait to dive into this summer. I’m already halfway through my Goodreads Challenge goal, but I want to be at least 5 books ahead of schedule before the new school year starts.

6. Learn something new. I’m still deciding what I’m going to learn – I’ve kicked around everything from languages to a new craft. We’ll see where the muse takes me!

7. Binge on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I have several shows/movies I want to watch and catch up on including, Grimm, Portlandia, The Blacklist, Bob’s Burgers, About Time, Theory of Everything, The End of the Tour, and so many others!

8. Work. Yep, teachers can’t help but do some work over the summer. I’m teaching a new class (AP World History) in the fall, so I’m going to try and get a jump on the planning process. It’s a class I’ve always wanted to teach, so I’m looking forward to outlining the basic structure.

9. Spend time with family, furkids, and friends. As my circle continues to get smaller, more free time means more time with those I care about the most. I’m just going to hold onto them a little tighter and make sure they know how much I love them.

10. Clean out the house. It’s time to purge the shed and closets of the stuff we no longer use or need. I cleared out the built up junk in my classroom last week, so I’m already in the mindset of getting rid of clutter.

This list should probably have the word “relax” somewhere in there, but I’ve never been one for long periods of sleep or sitting still. Why start now?

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c.b.w. 2016

Office

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I.
white walls
hide a blue sky
fluorescent lights flicker

II.
the sun sets
on a full inbox
head in my hands

 

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Image: Office in a Small City – Edward Hopper, Wikipedia Commons

Words: senryu, c.b.w. 2016

Part of the 2016 April Poem A Day Challenge (via Poetic Asides on Writer’s Digest) for the April 18 prompt: office

Favorite Thing Friday: Caffeine in General

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For the last week I’ve been knee deep in preparing my portfolio entry for National Board Certification. This means working 12 to 14 hour days without much of a break.

This insane project includes:

  • a 13 page paper that essentially describes and analyzes my teaching strategies, outlines a series of lesson plans geared towards the ultimate goal of developing critical thinking and reasoning, and addresses the standards of teaching laid out by National Board.
  • three packages of lesson plans complete with full lesson description, instructional materials, and resources
  • three packages of student work samples that align with lesson plan goals and show growth indicators
  • full description of my classroom and school

Now you know why caffeine is my favorite thing this week. I need it in order stay in a good mood and power through my day. Sleep was never my friend, but remaining in a ridiculously good mood and having massive amounts of energy to work my way through a labyrinth of paperwork can only happen with the jolt of caffeine.

Whether it be chocolate (M&Ms, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers bites, Milky Way bites, Kit Kat bites, Hershey drops, and Hershey kisses) or my favorite muse juice, a Cafe Mocha, I owe many thanks to the miracle that is caffeine!

I’m in the homestretch of this segment of the National Board Process. I’ll be uploading my entries over the weekend! May the caffeine gods be watching over me!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2015