Friday, January 9, 2015

Knew Knee


 In April, 2013, I helped my husband move some new bookcases we had purchased.  As I tend to do, I leveraged my knee in the "pushing" process, and tore the meniscus.  Long story short, I became a victim of the orthopedist's knife after a year of other treatments, and am now the proud owner of a shiny partial right knee.  (And a magical laminated card to whisk me through airport security with an explanation for my increased metal intake.)

What challenges I had faced during teaching in 2014 that had helped me to grow professionally?

 Any teacher will tell you, it is easier to be sick and at school, than sick and in bed.  That seems stupid to most people, until they can truly understand a) the amount of time it takes to write lesson plans explaining to a substitute what you need them to do and b) TRUSTING anyone to do your job in your absence without causing more stress when you return.  

It really is a matter of weighing the risks and benefits.

By February, of 2014, I was not only visibly limping, I was grasping the walls when I walked down the halls.  I was grimacing, and in pain all of the time.  I worked, made dinner, ate, and went to bed.  There truly was not enough energy left for anything else.

I held out until National History Day in March, because, after all, who would give up a Saturday and take my kids to competition?  (Stupid me, I'm sure if I'd asked, there would have been many volunteers).  My kids advanced to state competition, and surgery was pushed back again until May.  (Even if they went to nationals in June, there was no physical way I could navigate the University of Maryland on the crutches that were now a part of my life.)

So, a week after states, I went into surgery.  I knew my substitute, she knew many of my kids, and it would be fine, I told myself.

Not being at school for a workaholic teacher is a difficult thing.  My head was not sick, it was just my knee.  My wonderful sub brought handmade cards from kids, papers, tales from the classroom, and other goodies to my house.  She skyped me into the classroom to view presentations at the end of the year.

And she challenged the kids to go above and beyond in ways I had never considered.   

So, in a way, my NEW KNEE, helped me to KNOW ME.  I had placed limitations upon expectations for my students, and my substitute showed me that they could and would do amazing things in my absence.

This year, there are more open doors, and fewer instructions.  Kids are thinking harder about what THEY want to tell and show about their learning, rather than attempting to fulfill the requirements established by a checklist or a rubric.  

I'd slap my knee in astonishment, but it's still a little numb!

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