The Good…

…because the bad and the ugly are already well documented.

Life is rough right now. For everyone. In different ways, for different reasons, and a little grace would go a long way but we seem to have a supply and demand problem in that regard. I would elaborate on that analogy, but I don’t even know if it really works, given that my high school econ class is a blur at this point, and I don’t have time to look it up right now because I have work to do. Lots of work to do.

As a general, and relatively (considering this is my 17th year teaching) new rule, I don’t do school work on the weekends until Sunday. I’m not procrastinating; I’m protecting. I’m checking myself before wrecking myself. I (finally) came to realize that if I started tackling school work prior to Sunday, I could and usually would work the weekend away. A teacher’s work is never done.

This newish habit did not come easily. I identify as a teacher. (I know this may be probably is unhealthy). I navigate the world with a teacher lens, always on the lookout for the next bit of inspiration. “That would make an awesome project,” I think, or “I have to share this with my students.” I don’t know how to shut this off, nor do I necessarily want to, but I do know that I can’t actually be working all the time. My husband deserves better, my stepson deserves better, my friends and family deserve better, and, well, I deserve better.

So I trained myself. I do not work on the weekends until Sunday. Except when I do.

I worked yesterday (Saturday). Yes, I broke my self-imposed self-care rule, but I couldn’t handle the idea that I would have a bunch of nagging tech issues for another 24 hours. It’s worth noting that my decision to work on a Saturday meant that I nagged a colleague with tech questions via a barrage of texts on a Saturday, and it’s worth double-noting and publicly acknowledging that she was awesome enough to respond (thanks, Stacy!!).

I think I have my virtual sh…stuff together for this week (the jury’s still out on my personal sh…stuff, although my counselor may have some insight for me come Thursday — and, actually, time/my students will tell whether I got my virtual stuff together, so stay tuned?). There’s still more to do. Before I closed my laptop yesterday, I decided to take a moment and do something I had been meaning to do all week. I listed the highlights of the week.

Folks, it was surprisingly easy and even more surprisingly encouraging. Check it out:

  • “I’m not a reader” is “liking [their book] actually”
  • student came in before school to share their personal writing (on the subject of trust)
  • student excited to share the book that they’re reading with another teacher
  • student admits to losing a classroom library book, offers to pay for it…and then finds out it was returned to me by another teacher
  • a student embracing the advice to overwrite a first draft
  • students actually sitting down to brainstorm prior to writing
  • readers having a hard time finding a place to pause in their books…and then taking advantage of the opportunity to read more later
  • students making poor decisions, owning it, and moving on
  • students eager to start up student organizations again
  • writers indicating interest in this month’s writing contest
  • writers sharing some awesome, creative approaches to their college application essays
  • writers being willing to share their work for next week’s class workshop
  • finding an old thank you letter from a former student
  • colleagues inspiring me with their work
  • colleagues supporting one another
  • students helping each other
  • students demonstrating patience with me and with themselves
  • students rolling with the proverbial punches

That last one reminds me of this, which I’m pretty sure is the teaching/learning gif of 2020:

I should have known this practice would lead to fulfillment. Making this list was kinda like filling a nerdy gratitude jar. And it was a bit of self-care. I’m going to need to do a lot more of this to make it through this year. As Jason Mraz suggests, I’m going to look for the good…

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