Friday, September 2, 2011
Year 3 Day 5
My intention was this: Take the camera to school and photograph all the parts of my room I decorated to look cute/welcoming/whatever and maybe say a few words about that...because...what else is there to say?
And then I forgot my camera. All week. How does someone forget something five days in a row? Maybe it was meant to be.
So, the above picture is purely for decoration. It's from some game I had the kids design last year.
Now, for the meat of this thing...
(I have to give you a brief history to make this story feel complete for me.)
I randomly decided to become a teacher five years ago. (This is my sixth year.) I don't know what my motivation was. I'm sure the "summers off" played into it. I had crazy ideas of what teaching was all about. Perhaps, for some teachers, those ideas are fairly accurate. For my situation, not by a longshot.
There comes a point (that "aha moment" without which I'd be someone else entirely), where one must give up their perceptions of what reality should be and must embrace what reality actually is. Or, at least accept it.
I spent two years in my first school, one year in my second school and this is my third year in (hopefully) my last school.
When I came to this school, I was contractually obligated to complete a full year. (Because, the date to say I didn't want to had already passed.) I was newly happy (I think I wrote about that in some other post on this blog.) and had decided I was finished doing things that didn't contribute to my happiness. Life is too short for all of that.
My plan was teach one more year and then find some other career. Because, while I had accepted reality, I didn't know what to do with it (for lack of a better explanation). I had decided teaching was not my thing.
Because while I had embraced the realities of who I was teaching, I had not given up my perceptions of who and how I was supposed to be as their teacher.
You can round the edges of a square peg, but it's never going to fit perfectly in that round hole.
I could see from the beginning most of my kids were square pegs. The kind who don't even try to be round pegs.
I know I'm a square peg. I kept trying to be a round peg. It wasn't working out all that well.
So there I was at my current school, 2 years ago, thinking I would just weather through and be done with all of it after a year.
Day 1: I remember walking out of there thinking "How can I still feel alive at the end of this day?" Because I had spent the entire previous year walking around feeling stress induced, physical pain and mental exhaustion from a school I never should have been at. (Or maybe I should have...otherwise how would I have recognized such a good feeling?)
Year 1 ended and I knew I could do another year. Year 2 ended and I knew I was where I was supposed to be. In fact, there is no place I'd rather be.
Day 5 of Year 3...Instead of walking out of there with the cute little pictures I was supposed to have taken, I walked out of there with the enormity of...
How awesome my school is.
How awesome my kids are.
How awesome it is I am allowed to be a square peg in a world full of round ones. I mean...for real...can you believe they let me do things like "waste" a week of time just talking to the kids and getting to know them (and letting them figure out who I am) before I hit them with work...(work I know they feel no connection to without having first connected with why they are there in the first place)? Or are fine with me having a fantasy football league (and later soccer) in the name of math?
I'm supposed to be afraid of the kids...according to most of my white friends (who I will admit live in some other reality...they mean well, but yeah...).
My school doesn't have the best reputation. People are first shocked I love the place and then always ask me why I'd stay. I can't really say in the number of words this blog would allow me (although that number is likely infinite).
All I can say today is it is so freakin' awesome to walk out of there on a Friday, after just having had the most engaging conversation with a kid,(a kid I discovered is talented beyond anything I could ever imagine being able to do...a kid who many would tell you is never going to graduate...a kid I might have earlier wondered if this is going to be the year he will keep coming to school, because he quit coming last year...) and knowing that same kid is walking out of the same place understanding there is a reason for him to come back, because not only was he just able to connect what he does with what he will be asked to do, but because some square peg is going to let him lead something in a world in which I'd guess he has felt fairly invisible.
And the whole thing just happened without any intentional agenda or knowledge it was going to happen.
It is a rush akin to no other.