You have taught your first eight or so weeks of school, and the pressures at times seem insurmountable. You have to meet the requirements for your state’s education standards; in Texas, they are the TEKS or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. You have to make sure you are covering the curriculum. You have to monitor the IEP or Individual Education Plan for each student who is classified in either SPED (Special Education) or a Section 504 category. Their accommodations must be met. Documentation must be kept. Lesson plans must be filed regularly. Meetings must be attended. Grades must be submitted by their deadline. In some cases, websites must be updated. New or new-to-you educational expectations and strategies must be followed. Parent conferences have begun to fill your conference or teaming period to work collaboratively with the parents of your students towards the goal of their students’ success. Faculty, department, and committee meetings occur around the same week each month when you find yourself saying, “WHOA!”
Now it is time to change gears. This last Friday found me feeling as though I had my nose and mouth above water with my toes grasping silt on a slippery slope. The night before I engaged in my favorite therapy—baking. I had already made dinner for my family and had a warm oven, so I pulled out the ingredients to make brownies. I don’t use mixes when I bake normally. They are too salty for my tastes. Back to Friday morning: I set my gradebook and papers aside, grabbed my jacket, and turned off the lights in my classroom. I walked outside of the building and sat on one of the concrete benches near the bus lane. It was just the right thing to do. I felt the wind tangling my hair as it untangled my mind. Just being outside for a few minutes to see the blue sky, white clouds, not-so-green grass, the rainbow assortment of cars and trucks, and a few birds overhead lifted my energy level so much so that I could go back inside and attack my pile of papers with gusto. By the day’s end on Friday, I had everything ready for Monday. I left with a lightened heart and spring in my step because I took the time to step back a moment, breathe, and then get right back to it.
This is my eighteenth year of teaching, and I have the need to be encouraged just as much as a first-year teacher. I have the need to pause and take a breath. I have the need to hear positive things instead of how many umpteen ways teachers (in general) aren’t doing anything to help the kids. The notion that someone like me with a real passion for student success is given a negative label or bad rap because of some legitimate bad eggs out there is maddening. I will tackle that topic one day, but today is not that day.
Since it’s Sunday, and marching season for band has drawn to a conclusion, my family and I will be worshipping at our church home on this LORD’s Day. I plan to enjoy some football with my guys, wash some laundry, and just recharge/reflect on/renew my soul. Make it a great day. ¡Ciao!