Wednesday, August 22, 2018

First Day x 20. In Search of Lollipops

Today was my first day of work.  Never mind that my first day of work  with the district was actually in August, 1999.  My hope is that the next 189 first days of work this year are as wonderful as today.
You see, teachers have a rare opportunity to reset the clock at the beginning of every new school year.  The annual cleaning and polishing of the classrooms and hallways requires teachers to pack up their desks and clean off their surfaces before departing for the summer -- yet also allows/requires that we consider each item as we unpack and design our spaces for the new school year.  (This also allows us the luxury of unpacking our summer haul of new school supplies, which is a serious addiction for many teachers that might, some day, require a 12 Step program.)    So while every other profession has calendars that begin with a month named JANUARY, teachers have calendars that spread over two calendar years, and teachers make New Year's Resolutions in August.
Here's the thing about today's first day:  It was entirely different than any previous year.  Those who are anti-existential will argue that this is an observation that is painfully obvious, while those who are mindful and have listened to the fading of the tiny cymbal in the Mindfulness Professional Development session this summer, will know exactly where I am coming from.  After a series of very stressful starts in recent years, today was a day unlike any in recent memory.  The focus was on people instead of data. The discussion and activities encouraged wonderment, raw honesty, and reflection about our teaching.  Nothing seemed rushed, and everything seemed nurturing.
It was magical.
Right before lunch, we watched Drew Dudley's TedX talk, "Leading with Lollipops. "  (Click on the link  -- it's worth the 6 minutes!).  I instantly flashed back on my person.
Almost 25 years ago, I was shopping at Stauffer's of Kissel Hill, with a four year old in the cart.  I was pregnant with Kristin, and Scott was in school. Now Stauffer's was, and still is, a great place to wander and shop - especially at lunchtime.  There are MANY samples to be had, and if you don't leave with a full belly, along with a full cart, there were still 50 cent hotdogs to be grabbed on the way out the door.  I was doing my usual mom thing, chattering to the kid in the cart, when a total stranger touched me lightly on the arm and said, "YOU are an awesome mom! I love listening to you talk to your little boy today!  You made my day!"
I found myself today-- a quarter of a century later -- (and many times in between when I thought I was less than adequate as a parent) flashing back on what I now know was a I lollipop moment of a total stranger affirming me. I wish I had been more grateful, and less like the freak who stared at her in total amazement. I don't remember saying much more than muttering a "thank you."  
I have never had a professional development day that resulted in serious flashbacks of personal affirmation of value and worth as today's experience.  "All the feels," as my 30 something friends say on Facebook, and yes, today, that's a great definition.
It made me want to recommit to the blog.
So here I am, watching TedX talks after my first day of work.  and now some Canadian guy in a hat is my new inspiration.  On Monday, I'll be diving off sand cliffs with some guy named Mustafa. (watch the video and stop singing the Lion King in your head -- it's not a typo!) Tomorrow is Day 1 again, without the feeling of Bill Murray or Groundhog Day, driving right into year 20, still feeling like it's my very first day of school.

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