of the journey.
the highest art.
—IVY BAKER PRIEST
Thinking through 2016, I can’t say there is anything major I want to leave behind or shed. However I do realize that from the start, this year has been full of ‘stuff’. At the beginning of the year, my husband left for England. We (I) still had to finish the house remodel, list it, sell it, move it. I was also a STEM teacher working full-time and leading different professional development programs. It was a crazy, busy, stressful time! But I did it, it’s over…and we are back to a place we have considered ‘home’. So, it was worth it.
In June, we moved to England and not shortly after, I took a new position. I still needed to unpack my house, move in, and get settled.
They say there are 5 key stressors in live…moving house, changing jobs, divorce, death of a loved one, and major illness. This past year we have moved house, changed jobs…and, although it was never like we were going to split, the 6 months apart was tough. And I would argue…moving so far away from family and friends does feel a bit like losing loved ones. My son and daughter have a 5 or 9 hour time difference, which can make it difficult to talk. Our friends are 5 as well.
So, 2016 has been challenging…but I have been known to be overly positive and I do love being back in England. There is just something here about the people and the landscape. It’s always felt like ‘home’.
Well, 2017 will bring new challenges and the need to refocus and gain footing on what is important in life. I have ‘watched’ from afar the #teacher5aday challenges, always feeling I didn’t have time to really look into it or take part. Well, that is my New Years Resolution. I intend to take part in #teacher5aday and really see how it impacts my health and overall wellbeing. It can only go up from here.
#connect – I am going to focus on connecting. When I get busy, I focus more on the right now and less on connecting with others. Personally, I am going to work on connecting with my friends through a weekly on-line ‘chat’ or meeting up for a walk or tea. Professionally, I am going to try to build a local PLC of teachers who are encouraging, love teaching, and focused on growing hopefully on twitter but also in person. I miss the day-to-day dialogue of just being an #edunerd, but also sharing our families, struggles, and celebrations!
#notice – Each day I am going to take time to notice the good and positive things by using a jar I saw on Facebook. I think this is something I can share with my family and classroom…It will be filled with positive thoughts so I can look back on not so bright days.
#learn – I am two classes away from my Masters in Reading. I signed up for a class starting in January! I am also going to connect to learn by reading and checking into Edutopia! (Probably a lot more AFTER I finish my classes.)
#volunteer – This is also giving. I used to volunteer for the animal shelter. So this one, I’m not quite sure of yet. But I would like to contribute! I should be able to volunteer more in February and would like to start a Lego team or Robotics team. Or work with animals. 🙂
#exercise – T25! I started today! But I also need to balance that with some meditation. This is where I need more accountability!
Ok..that already sounds like a lot. Thank you @MartynReah for starting #teacher5aday. I love teaching but do see where I have to focus on my own #teacherwellness as well!
On Thursday night I presented at the Specialist School and Academies Trust (#SSATNC14) Teachmeet. The theme of my 5 minute presentation was on the issue of staff well-being. This was a mini version…
Well, it’s been two years since I’ve been here and how the fates work….
This has been me this Christmas break…
It hasn’t been pretty, but it’s been lovely! I was sick (again) going into the first week and was seriously struggling with some difficulties adjusting to this teaching position. So, I settled in, tried to focus on family, and do what I love best…READ! and read some more..and some more.
Along the way, I started to play with the highlighting features (I don’t know how to read without taking notes! lol) and stumbled across how Kindle allows you to post quotes into your Word Press. Well, it’s been two years since I’ve been here and how the fates work….
My last post right before Christmas of 2014 shared in general about the difficulties I was having getting my feet under me that year. I was blown away by some of the common feelings and concerns I had then…that I am having now..but then I realized…
I think what shocked me the most was that I felt this has been the worse start ever to a school year. Yet, looking back on that blog post in 2014, I realized it hasn’t been…in a very big way.
In 2014, I was blessed to work in an open classroom with a fellow 4th grade teacher who is truly a dear friend. Although the blog post seemed bleak, for a moment I thought…”DAMN…I was here before!?” Then it hit me…like a wreaking ball…a bit of insight might make things more clear.
Her husband was dying of cancer. This was his 3rd year of fighting and things didn’t seem to be looking up. In October, I noticed the calls from the doctor, family, him..were becoming different (we were in an open class format and she knew I could hear.) And I could tell doctors were trying to prepare her. And rightly so, my teammate, dear friend…(there just isn’t a good enough word)..woman I was honored to know (WIWHTK), would not hear of it. It frustrated the hell out of her!
But I was worried…mostly about her and her family…but then I was worried about her worrying about her class (because she was)…and worrying about people worrying about her class (because we were the big ‘writing year…it was our first year with Common Core/FSA testing…) And I was worrying about our classes…because we were more of a big family that two separate classes… we were in monthly data team meetings, we had goals to meet, it was our stretch year…not just with the original standards…but now they were ‘harder’….we didn’t know what the assessment looked like…it was everything teaching was already and then this!
But ‘this’ was more than all of ‘that’….but ‘that’ supported her family and was the only income and insurance…So how to allow both? (Is that even the right way to express it…) How to give ‘this’ all the time and focus it needed when ‘that’ was a worry for her, the financial support for her family, and – honestly – what WIWHTK felt was the ‘break’ she needed from thinking about all of ‘this’. That was the dilemma underlying that whole post. The invisible struggle and theme of 2014.
It was tough and that blog post was when I figured out and knew what was coming, even when WIWHTK was fighting like hell to stop it. This was when I would go back and start to talk to our amazing leaders about making a plan. It sucked…and it impacted two hearts (theirs) two children (theirs), two families (his and hers), two teachers, two classes, at a time of high stakes testing. We had gone from an A to a B and were working on becoming an A school again. There were enough stresses on our classrooms for her to have to manage this…can you imagine!? And if you wonder why I use the term ‘our classrooms’…because she was always worried about how all of this would impact ‘our classrooms’. ugh…
How could I ever think now was anything like 2014? It puts it all in perspective does it not?
From that blog post I pulled out the concept of ‘poise’…and went in with a different mind-set. This would not be about struggle or difficulty…this would be about love and support. This would be about coming in each day with poise for myself, for our children, and for her! It would be about love and respect…and honoring who she was, still is, and will always be. WIWHTK is a fighter…she is strong and honest…and caring beyond belief. I admire her and am inspired by her…always.
That year we made it through. She allowed (which was unbelievably difficulty for her) to allow us to support. I taught, planned, marked for both classes…we had a 3rd teacher in our area who kept us laughing (and it was her first year to the school)…we had an administration that never once placed pressure on us…but trusted us… and it wasn’t about me doing all of that by the way…or about us being neat or organized…it was was about WIWHTK, her family, and these children.
The problem was never if WIWHTK would put her class high enough on the list…
the problem was always would she allow us to support her so she wouldn’t make that class one more stress in her life. Would we be enough of a team to help her through this in a way (that a good teacher will) allow her not to guilt over it…to feel her students would still learn…and to do it in a way that she felt would be positive?
She would have the guilt, responsibility, worry, concern, thought about her classroom for all of us! That was never a doubt… But did we have the matching strength to support her in a way she needed and at the level she would feel allowed her class to grow enough…enough to feel her ‘problems’ wouldn’t impact their learning? (really…)
He died almost three months to the day I wrote the post…
WIWHTK believed, truly, until the last few hours he would survive…let me tell you, as crazy as that might sound…she really did. That love…her struggles…changed me.
I will never forget that year…it taught me more about friendship…love…teamwork…being a teacher, mother, wife…human being….it set the foundation for what was and is the most important thing. And yet, two years later…I realize I forgot. How could I?
I have been faced with a challenge at work again. Another peer who has been dealt a blow and is struggling. This one affected me deeply because I was new and didn’t understand at all what was happening…but essentially, I was in the way. I could sense this struggle, frustration, anger within my class team..and if you knew me well…my class family (we are always family).
It brought my teaching to it’s knees…and I’m sad to say I’m not being dramatic. It sucked. I classified it as the ‘roughest start to a school year’. It got to me…and I didn’t realize how deeply it hurt and how much I struggled, how it affected my mindset, my trust until this Christmas break…
But in the process of dealing with things the way I do best…by reading, and learning, and reflecting, and refocusing…I found my old blog and the post from November, 2014…
And you know what…the beginning of this year has been rough. It has taught me how essential having supportive people on your team is as a teacher. I’ve read Howard Gardner’s views on the need for ‘resonance’ and Alison Peacock’s belief that trust is essential…and I’m coming back from a dark place.
All I could hear when I read my old post over was my good friend Jen
It’s not like 2014 all over again… so get over it! You think teaching is tough?
And she is right. I have always known teaching was tough and although I didn’t think I could ‘mindset’ myself out of these last few terms, I need to focus on what I am learning from this…while being very, very centered on all the blessings in my life, my own health, and #whyIteach!
Thank you fates… point made.
I plan to start blogging again and I hope there are primary teachers in England who will join me. I’m missing my PLC and the incredible teachers I’ve worked with and who have taught me well – some I’m blessed to be back in touch with here and am excited to be reconnecting. Maybe in sharing what I have learned and building a new PLC will help smooth out this transition back to England and on to a team that is a better fit. I love teaching…I know its tough…but I still feel blessed. It’s #WhyIteach