Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. -Socrates
We are not meant to face our battles alone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Normally I ignore the school announcements as they ramble over the intercom. Pretty much everything they announce has nothing to do with me as a sub. But I did catch the quote of the day. I know I’ve heard it before, and I almost passed it off as cliché. Almost. Then I realized how sad that is, because I also know how true that statement is. We all have our struggles. We all have our battles. Most of them are secret, simmering underneath the surface of smiling faces and polite attitudes. It’s so easy to believe the facades, to think that others don’t struggle as we do, but that’s just not true. We are all fighting a hard battle of some kind or another.
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I have a confession to make. When I strip away all my ambition and dreams of preparing teens for their futures and revamped career explorations, I need to admit that there’s another reason that drives what I do every day as a teacher. There’s a story behind why I fight so hard to connect with my students and invest everything I can in them, no matter how short a time I spend in a given school. As I look at my adolescence, I see the glaring need that no one stepped in to fill. I see the cracks I fell through, and I want stop that from happening to someone else.
I need to be careful as I write this post. I’ve had 10 years to recognize and deal with the fact that when I was 17 and 18 years old, the adults in my life failed me. I’ve come to terms with it, and I don’t blame anyone. I haven’t always been this level-headed about it, though. When I first looked back on that year with the perspective of adulthood, the realization of what had happened hit me with a wave of anger. Not at my parents, but with the teachers and other adults in my life back then. I was hurting and scared, but they did nothing to reach out. I know that in outward appearances I held the world in the palm of my hand, but when your smart, popular star of a student breaks down in tears in class on a regular basis, when she spends half a class period twisting and mangling a plastic water bottle out of recognizable shape, and finds relief in the act of banging her head against her locker? Something is wrong. Help her! Continue reading
In about a week, I’ll begin building a new life for myself.
I’ve done it many times now. Every nomadic move opened the door to a new life, a new home, a new community. Even the temporary moves and three-month rotations brought people and experiences into my life that made those places a unique time and place. My husband and I always made a point to throw ourselves into whatever community we were in, no matter how short our stay there. We never let ourselves say “Why bother? We’re moving away soon anyway.” Instead, we made friends and found surrogate families. We explored the sights and claimed our favorite haunts. We built routines specific to that location and that stage of our lives. Whether we lived in a place for over a year or just three months, we deliberately built a life for ourselves.
All the locations we’ve called home in the last four years in one Google map…
“A man among children will long be a child. A child among men will soon be a man.” – Thomas Fuller, 1732
Ask almost any teacher, and they’ll tell you how they often crave adult conversations at the end of the day. As rewarding as our work is, there’s something odd about spending the entire day among a younger generation of non-peers. I find so much joy in my work with teens, but even in my most fulfilling, exciting workdays, I need to talk to an adult afterwards. That may simply mean stopping by a coworker’s classroom to swap stories. It may mean a dinner out to vent frustrations away from the workplace. Maybe it’s a phone call to a close friend or my sister on my drive home. Maybe it’s a Saturday afternoon spent wandering around a local sight with my husband. I’ve clung dearly to my own adult world even as I’ve thrown myself headlong into a passion for helping teens become adults.
As I look around, I realize I’ve been blessed with an amazing peer group. My teacher friends are some of the best teachers you’ll ever meet – experts in their content areas, dedicated to their craft, and invested in their care for their students. We teach at different schools with different specific interests, but that doesn’t matter. We’re good, and I’m blessed to be among their number. Continue reading
It was 11:45 pm on a Friday night. My husband was already zonked out for the night, and I was just playing around on my computer. I finally pushed the keyboard away and headed to the bathroom with thoughts of getting ready for bed. I was literally halfway through the bathroom door when my phone rang.
This is where my husband and I go on Friday nights. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Now, you need to understand something. My husband and I have never been “party-on-a-Friday-night” kind of people. We’ll go out to dinner with friends or maybe catch a movie sometimes, but more often than not, Friday night sees us reading or doing work at Starbucks, or simply enjoying a quiet night at home. We like it that way. And we like going to bed at a decent hour.
It was not normal for someone to call me at 11:45 pm. Far from it. I knew the ringtone, though. It was the special ringtone that I reserve for two of my dearest friends. Continue reading
I know – I dropped off the face of the blogging planet for a while. First it was the Thanksgiving holidays, then sub work picked up like crazy, and now it’s packing, planning, phone calls, and all that other stress that comes with moving. I’m now on my last day of a long-term sub job, while my suitcases sit half-filled waiting for the trip to Milwaukee tomorrow, and then the airport and a flight to Alaska the next day. When I find a spare hour here and there, I want to spend time with family and friends before I move, so the blog had to take a back seat for a while. But today the students are writing all class period, so I can write a little, too.
Over the weekend, I had a chance to go to a Christmas party thrown by some of my old college friends. This party has been a yearly tradition for a long time, but it’s been several years now since I’ve been in town for it. So after unloading a U-Haul into my in-laws basement and a trip to Kohl’s for some last-minute winter clothing, I met a close friend and together we made the hour and a half drive to the party. We arrived around 7:30pm, and then we proved that we are no longer college-age by leaving at around 9:45pm. Oh yeah. We’re party animals. But it was nice to see friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Continue reading