And so the first year back to teaching is drawing to a close. This is my third teaching experience, filling in the gap for me between the community college and the elementary school/middle school. I love spending my days with teenagers. They’re energetic, earnest, witty, dramatic, thoughtful, wise (so incredibly wise), idealistic.
I do not want to minimize the challenges that have come with the year. I have met the Monster of Self-Doubt again, in a big way, but I have felt so much more prepared to answer her than I have in the past. I still have my challenges with organizing and systematizing; I am excited for a summer to re-envision and re-craft my systems so that they can help to keep me afloat during the coming year instead of me trying to keep my systems afloat. I see where I need to be more firm in certain realms of classroom discipline, particularly in the areas of the students who want to cut up and act out all the time.
All said and done, it’s been just what I needed. The challenges have definitely fallen into the arena of learning experiences for me, and every day has brought something joyful and delightful. I have learned as much as I have taught, I think, and that feels like good balance.
1. All those wise, witty, and charming young people I will be missing in the coming weeks. They brought such sparkle to my days, and taught me about myself and themselves and the world
2. My colleagues: They’re helpful and thoughtful, hard-working and playful. One of the real joys of coming back to the academy has been feeling part of a team of caring people like this. I think that good school institutions happen not when people work together to make the institution great, but when the focus is on the students–then the school itself does become great. My colleagues pursue academic excellence not for its sake alone, but because it is part of helping these students to be the best people they can be. Head, heart, and hands. And spirit, too.
3. Caring administrators who understand restorative justice. One thing I have noticed in the past year when students get a call to the office: They might dread it, knowing that they are going to be held accountable for their actions, but there’s also a sense that they’re going down there to get help with solving a problem. They know and trust that they will be listened to and treated justly.
4. The promise of getting it done. I still have many hours of finishing up this year’s details before I can put the year to rest. Still, it will get done. Now I can focus on this part of the work.
5. Foraging yesterday afternoon with One Small Boy. He likes to fill up part of his berry bin with white honeysuckle blossoms (apparently the yellow ones don’t taste as good). The mulberries by the pond are particularly vigorous this year, though not quite ripe enough to fill a bin. We found water cress for my sandwich today, and green things for my allergy tea: two kinds of plantain, nettle (a new patch by the pond), purple clover, wild chamomile, several mints, dock. We picked some cherries (only a little wormy) from the ancient tree beside the spring house.
6. The promise of days and days ahead when I can focus on my own kiddos. I think the hardest thing about the year has been the long hours of separation from them, and from Jon. During the past year, at least four days out of five, one boy would wake up before six o’clock so we could have a little cuddle time before I left for school. This morning, he is still snoring at 7:15–he knows I will be here when he wakes up. He told his dad that the thing he is most looking forward to this summer is cuddling with Mama in the mornings. Me too.
May we walk in Beauty!