-minimal bathroom breaks
-endless hours of planning, prepping, and grading
-physical exhaustion from "lecturing", "coaching", "disciplining", "reminding", "reminding" again, "circulating", "reinforcing", "facilitating", motivating? inspiring?
-forgetting to eat lunch or not having a chance to sit down and eat lunch
-too many students to keep track of
-"asks" from "above" to keep track of
-not enough funding
-little to no technology
-playing catch up with students after years of falling behind in math, writing, etc.
like, why hasn't anyone solved any of these problems yet.
ok, i just really needed to get that out of the way, and now it is, so.
Lately, I've been intentionally trying to carve out time to focus on getting inspired. If I were to paint my first few years in education with broad strokes, it'd go something like-
Entering education: idealism
First year: survival, questioning my abilities, and then proud of getting through it
Second year: survival, at my wit's end, relief
Third year: getting into routine, overworked, looking for direction
Fourth year: right back into routine, bored by tedium despite knowing that i'm never realistically going to get through my to-do list, more desperately looking for direction
Back to looking for inspiration: I've found that ideas only come to me when I step away from my desk and away from the classroom. I get inspired when I take a walk around the lake at sunset, when I sit in silence in the living room, and when I open a tab for a new blog post and start typing. I get inspired when I'm at a new environment, when I'm interacting with people I admire, and when I'm in the presence of art. I get inspired when I exercise, when I read a good book, and when I write and draw in my journal.
I've lately been making time for myself in any of these various ways. Besides stepping away from work, I've found it useful to unplug from social media, watch less TV, read less of the news, and (sorry friends) see friends less. That last piece was actually not intentional, but in the accident of letting too much time slip by between meet ups with friends, I've found time to clear my head and search around for what's in there. With the constant stream of media and interactions, it's nice to be able to take a time out, regroup, and make sense of everything going on around me.
What am I hoping to learn in these times? Nothing in particular. But here are some ideas that have surfaced, some of which have already come to fruition:
- get into grad school and take on a slightly different role at work (check)
- use playing cards to identify desks in my classroom in order to mixup student groupings (group by number, assign roles by suit, make partners according to color, even/odd pairings and mixups, etc.) (check)
- get recruited by the Peace Corps as professionals so B and I can get placed abroad and learn a new language while still continuing to grow in our career
- various weekend/long weekend/seasonal break travels (check, check, and check)
- make unit folders and a unit anticipation guide for students to help organize their understanding of the content (check)
- go to grad school in Iceland and then in NYC one day
- creative strategies to better support certain students with particular emotional or academic needs (ongoing)
I wonder what my future has in store for me. I want to step up but I also want to chill out. I want to continue doing meaningful work. Eventually, I'll want a change of pace and a change of environment. I want more time to read and write. I want to feel successful in my work. I want room to grow and the stepping stones to get there.