Monday, January 28, 2008
Writing Marks My Personal Pace
No, not "personal space." Dinner is done, the toddler is wrestling with Daddy on the couch, and daughter is in taking her shower before it's the toddler's turn for the tub. I'm munching on pink, white and red peanut m-n-m's (I know, not the healthiest choice), and have just finished reading the latest postings from the blogs to which I subscribe. The day is winding down. Surprisingly my thoughts are winding up.
I read some posts from teachers who were reflecting on their teaching practice, their latest successes, their most recent frustrations and disappointments. Several crafters have posted new ideas for spring, have rearranged their work space, and are entertaining thoughts of repainting rooms in their homes. A military wife is reviewing the latest book she's read that has been published as a resource for those of us who married military-folk, and several painters have listed their latest canvases on Ebay or Etsy. I myself posted earlier today about the baby afghan given to expectant friends, the Girl going to the district science fair, the wet and windy weather, and the cookies I was going to make (but didn't yet) for our daughter's friend.
I read the local newspaper several times a week, enjoy perusing the craft and home decor magazines at the store, and read the postings on NetNewsWire each morning. I'm authoring my own blog almost daily, responding to comments, answering emails, and following interesting links to wherever they might lead. It's a very different personal pace for me, considering what my schedule was at this time last year. Teaching full time, my husband deployed, primary parent 24/7, feeling extreme twinges of guilt whenever the load felt too heavy, too much a burden.
I was still writing last year, a few rants and silly surveys, but mostly weekly parent letters sent home via email or backpack. In these "notes home" I reviewed our week's activities, concepts introduced and explored, skills practiced, and made suggestions for activities that could be done at home for families to enjoy. My favorite part of the weekly note was the very last element I included, the "kindergarten quotes." Those funny or amazing things overheard coming out of the mouths of my Super Stars that I knew parents would enjoy...are what I miss most this year of not teaching.
I could plow through my lesson plans each week, student assessments, documentation for IEP's or whatever other school-required documentation reared its ugly head, but the weekly letter took time. Thought. Reflection. Editing. Evaluation of my tone. It often felt like it was the only written element required in my profession where my true voice would be "heard," so it mattered to me that the parents *knew* they were really making a connection with an authentic part of their childrens' school lives as they braved the backpack each Friday to excavate the note out of the pile of smooshed chips, broken pencils, and show and share items.
I'm a believer in behaving professionally when it comes to my job. My personal life is not to be confused with my public role, but I do believe in being sincere no matter what stage I might be occupying throughout the day. Though this year my pace at home does not match the speed usually kept when teaching, it has enabled me to spend more time in authentic reflection and on authentic writing. I've felt free to express how I've been feeling as a parent, spouse, stay-at-home mom, friend, out-of-work teacher, and blogger. I've reflected on my professional work as a teacher, my personal adventures away from the classroom, and I've found that I have new interests, new wishes, new directions I'd like to follow. Liberating myself from the trusted yet very routine role of public school teacher has put me in the position of having to stick one toe in the water, testing. I've been in the same pool for so long, and never entertained the thought that maybe the pond over yonder would cool my heels just as well... possibly even better. Is that a rushing brook I hear?
I love teaching. But I've found I love other things too. It will be interesting to set my pace again once we've moved, and I'm back to work.