This last week has been a whirlwind. Again, I’m not sure where to focus, how to process it, or even how to begin.
I guess first with the bad news. Michael Patrick was cremated and buried in my mom’s plot this week. I didn’t return to Iowa for the funeral due to my perceived professional responsibilities. While Michael wouldn’t have cared AT ALL, I suspect the rest of the family are upset or disappointed by my decision. Hints have been dropped, anyway. The interesting part is that, depending upon whom you talk, is the person who doesn’t agree with the decision. Wrong or right, thank goodness for DTP and DBT (both depression programs designed to minimize relapse). The skills have helped me navigate the unhappiness and expectations fairly well.
Apparently my grandmother has also had a bad week. She is VERY WEAK and keeps falling. This is one of those places where if you could change the past you would. No one told me this summer after she was diagnosed that she had been given 6-12 months to live. If so, I would have flown out in July. I missed my cousin’s wedding (which looks like it was great fun) because I was waiting to go to Iowa in October for our first school break. I could have changed that KNOWING I’d see everyone and say my good-byes. Well, coulda, woulda, shoulda. There’s no changing what happened. It can only inform future decisions.
When the same cousin was kind enough to let me know that Grandma’s prognosis had changed (this is when I learned the 6-12 months part) and that Grandma only has 3 months left (give or take, at best, etc.), I did ask when I should come. K encouraged me to wait until Labor Day because Grandma was still in good spirits. Since then I’ve learned that Grandma has been falling due to weakness.
It’s morbid, but if I had to choose between stage 4 cancer and a massive heart attack in bed, I’d go for the later. I can’t imagine the pain of watching someone waste away. I know how hard it was on Mom when she watched her sister, my Aunt Irene, die earlier this year. Mom was HEARTBROKEN. She and Aunt Irene talked all the time until Irene’s illness made it almost impossible. Mom still is realing from not being able to say good-bye to Irene when she did die.
Just a reminder, people. Not possessions. People are really, really important.
Now onto the good. My bunnies (students) are really low. They are also as sweet as everyone said. Even better, 90% of them WANT to do a good job and make progress. I’ve already seen a lot of impressive thinking, team work, and work out of half of them that I feel good about the choices I’m going to make the next school year.
You see, Thursday (the second day of school), I put science on the agenda. You’d think I wrote “Goof off with your friends for an hour” they were so excited. Apparently science and social studies are not the subjects they get the most. Therefore they’re excited to engage in the learning. With that in mind, as well as my schedule, I’m looking to extend my day by an hour. Unpaid.
I really want them to have time to work on curriculum that’s fun and enriching (I can’t schedule assignments or homework because not every parent will let his/her child stay) and interesting. I want to give them time to do homework with me. I want them to have a place that makes sense to them and helps them move forward. I was already TOO HONEST with them. I pointed out that while people will THREATEN to hold them back, the fact is we’ll do something far more cruel to them. We’ll move them forward unprepared for the challenges of the next grade. Holding back would be a kindness, but we don’t do that.
While we haven’t engaged in state sponsored curriculum yet, we started work on day one. I trained them on Tic-Tac-Toe Products (multiplication practice), listening skills (a challenge. The barometer kid really tells me when to move on!), started string art (we aren’t done), made classroom shirts (not as successful as I’d like), and started Fizz and Martina. Fizz and Martina is probably no longer made or sold. It’s another good thing this week because (TRIUMPHANT TRUMPET BLARE!) I was given a projector that was allowed me to hook up my DVD/VCR to it. Yes, that’s how old the curriculum is — it’s on VCR! 😛 Mind you, I drug in our old TV just in case.
The students are really working together and THINKING about what they’re doing. It’s been hard, but they will work on it for 90 minutes without realizing it. How great is that? The program is designed to make them take notes, share information (so hard for many of them), WRITE IN COMPLETE sentences, and THINK about what they’re saying. It’s been difficult, but they are getting there. Most really want to show their families because they have such pride in their work. How great is that?
Not only are the students great, but so are the people around school. When I lived in the portables, I never knew anyone. I mean, I KNEW them, but I rarely saw or talked to them. That’s changed. Just the way I arranged my room, the quotes I put up in the hallway, my bulletin boards, and my interactions with the students have shown them a new me. As Tracy said, “You’re in a new space — your room and here (points towards head)”. It’s true. I’m in a better place, and it shows.
In fact, I think people are responding to me because, once again, I’m having fun. Truly. I’m laughing, and not because of morbid, ironic, ignorant things. I’m laughing for fun. I laughed in class yesterday. I haven’t done that since I had 6th graders. Even the former students who stop by are happy to be in my company, and I feel the same. Is it possible I’m the same teacher? I don’t think so.
Hopefully with class, medication, mindfulness, and a new attitude, this year will continue to be one filled with positive encounters, great challenges, and the achievement of goals. Once again, I can’t imagine being in a different job because I love this one so much.
Again, how great is that?