Thursday, January 29, 2015

Folklore


This has been a busy week.  Nearly every day has ended in an evening with plans of varying importance, with very little time at home.  Tonight was no exception, but tonight was so very needed, and so very, very worth trying to cram three weeks worth of stories of triumphs and frustrations  into 2 1/2 hours -- because it's been at least that long since Liz and I have been able to connect and talk.

We met at our favorite coffee house, grabbed really good sandwiches and chai, and the next thing I knew, I was worrying that the quarter I'd put in the meter, convinced that 2 hours was plenty of time, might have resulted in a parking ticket.  It was 8:05.  I'd arrived at 5:20.   

The Te@chthought Blog Challenge for today:
What is one thing you wish you’d known when you first started teaching, and explain how you do it now.

How lovely that at the end of a very long day, on the cusp of the arrival of the end of a very long week, speckled with talks of blizzards and snow days, but actually punctuated with snow delays which only serve to shorten classes into fractured measures of time that in no way equal the plans for each day, the prompt is something so clean and easy. 

When I first started teaching, I arrived a few minutes prior to the start of the school day.  On a really good day, I might be as much as 20 minutes early.  Given that my own children were also in school, and required transportation to hockey games, band practices, dance lessons, and a variety of other chauffer commitments,  I usually left school as close to the official end of the day as possible, dragging a school bag that rolled behind me that looked like I might have been heading to the overseas terminal at the airport.  I'd say hello and goodbye to colleagues as I wheeled past their rooms, and got to know the ones who ate lunch with me at the same time every day that I was in their building, but I was teaching in the vacuum known as Giftedland, and there were few interactions or co-teaching opportunities in those early years.

Oh, how I wish I had realized the importance of connecting with others in the profession.  Collaborate, plan, design, dream, talk about common philosophies, passions, interests....  I didn't think I needed to do that, because it wasn't defined as necessary, and the district had assigned me a mentor to provide all the knowledge I needed to succeed.

Fast forward to today.  Education has changed, my rolling suitcase is now a backpack, both to save sanity and time, and my connections with my colleagues extends far beyond the English wing to other departments, other districts, and other continents.  Who would have known that talking to Bainbridge Island or Sacramento, California would give me the perfect activating strategy for a lesson this week?  Or that I'd be tweeting with someone in China about Project Based Learning?  Or that dinner with a former colleague, and forever friend would give me the assurances and renewed strength to face Friday head on.


It may seem like a perfect fairytale, or, (go ahead, indulge me -- the chai was wonderful) folklore.  But I can honestly say that this year, my sixteenth in this position, is the best year of my career.  I love my job, even though it overwhelms me on a daily basis.

I get by with a little help from my friends.  My World Wide Friends.  And more than a few here at home.  

New teachers, take time to grab a hot beverage, don't roll that cart past a room.  Know your colleagues, love them, and support them.  You'll be astounded at the reaping from that sowing.