Life Lessons

A good year-and-a-half ago, I was working at a school I loved being at, but didn’t love.  I was working with people I loved working with, but didn’t want to work with the other teachers whom I didn’t love.  I was working with students I loved, in conditions I didn’t love.  I was in a job I loved, teaching in a way that I didn’t love.  Needless to say, the parts I didn’t love weren’t fostering me as a teacher.  They weren’t refreshing my soul.  I felt I was becoming part of the problem at school.  Seriously, while I would analyze data, and could see gaps, the fact that my data was listed, upset me to no end.  I knew what to do, but I wasn’t necessarily doing it.  I was, in short, becoming complacent.

I was also pretty damned angry all the time.  Now I’ll be honest, I have a mean temper. It’s the one thing I need to focus on changing this upcoming year.  I have an idea and a path, I just need to show fidelity to it.  That said, I was angrier then, all the time.  I had a lot of complaints and felt I wasn’t being heard.  Somewhere in this I asked Mary Ann Rokovich for career advice.

We met at Starbucks on a cold, wet Friday afternoon.  I was filled with every little complaint I had — students, parents, staff, administrators, and district office.  After listening to me, sorting through it all, Mary Ann made me focus on me.  Damn, that girl should be a life coach in her next life (remember, she’s retiring.  I went to the party on Tuesday). SIGH.  That, my friends, was hard.

There is a demotivating poster from Despair.com under the word dysfunction.  It says:  The only consistent feature in all your dissatisfying relationships is you.  Mary Ann didn’t say or imply this, because she’s a very decent human being, but she did help me see that I had control over all of this.  If I wanted change, I had to embrace it and change.

I honestly think the best career advice she gave me was that regardless of which job I was offered or received, that it was time to move on.  She encouraged me to apply not only for the position I’m in, but a wide scope of positions.  She asked me to be fearless, even considering kindergarten as an option.  Her advice, sage as it is, is that in order to grow you have to step out of your comfort zone.  You have to be willing to take on challenges and new tasks, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.  She was, and is, right.

So I leaped.  I’ve made mistakes — a lot of them.  I stupidly try to get into a war of wills with students whose only knowledge of my existence is how annoyed I make them.  I spent a year trying out how best to promote literacy to mixed results.  I DID NOT set up my classroom as I had my elementary classroom.  Diane taught me better than that.  I’ll correct it.

I’ve also learned from this staff.  I’ve learned to let things slide.  I’ve learned to let the administration back me up.  I needed to not always jump in and take over.  I’ve learned that if I bring the idea, I better be willing to bring the work.  They’ll let me do whatever I want, but I have to decide if I want it.  I’ve learned that no matter what mistakes were made elsewhere, they see the next year as a new beginning.  They took a chance on me when buyer’s remorse had to be high.

I’ve learned that if you let things settle, find your place, do your best, it will be OK.

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