At dinner with my family, all of whom are teachers, we were speaking about summer plans including a pig roast my parents are planning and my first wedding anniversary. It quickly became apparent that June was filling up. When I expressed that I would be joining my district’s cohort group for a leadership course which includes a summer overnight, my parents didn’t blink an eye. They know that I am often seeking opportunities to increase my leadership and the leadership of those around me. My younger sister, however, scoffed. She mentioned that the same opportunity came through her district and she deleted it after looking at the requirements. Now, an answer like this from my sister doesn’t surprise me. She’s a close-to-home person, and this experience would extend her farther than that. Thinking about this, though, it never occurred to me to NOT try for a spot in this program. Then I began to think about why that was.
This experience, though, came hand-in-hand with a conversation I had with a former professor. I was sharing some details about my life from the last year and where my thinking about teaching is currently at. I mentioned to her that I looked into an advanced degree opportunity, but realized quickly that it wouldn’t add to my learning since it was essentially a repeat of my recent Master’s degree. When she inquired why I might have been interested in that program, I simply stated that I liked school. She laughed kindly, and agreed that I do love school.
Each day, I prepare for the students. I try to do my very best to teach them something that they can take with them from my classroom even if it is just a bit of confidence in writing. Recently, my district and my count has been asking me to present at professional developments. These are events where I would previously be taking in material to use to grow myself. However, more and more, the schedules haven’t allowed me to engage in my own learning due to presenting. I found myself looking for more. I realized that I’ve recently been missing that “teaching” element in lieu of being the teacher. I realized that on two separate occasions this past week that I love learning and that I am ready to be taught.
It is one of those Spring tasks that is annoying and time-consuming, but so worth it until it rains or the bird poop shows up again. I’m talking window cleaning.
Saturday was the first day in Michigan when it was warm enough to open the windows for any period of time. Waking up in the morning, there was a chill inside the house, yet the heat wouldn’t kick on because it was too warm. So, I knew that it was time. Time to pen some windows. I opened the front door and wound the side casements open. I smiled as the bright, fresh scent of spring wafted in the screens. I headed upstairs and raised the front bedroom windows only to be affronted with winter’s sludge on my window tracks. Eww, I thought as my lips pursed and turned downward in a frown. We need to clean the windows. Already booked with things to do on Saturday, we decided to complete the task on Sunday.
On Sunday, we gathered towels, buckets, a squeegee and a ladder. We made a plan and dove in. I used a sponge with hot water and soap to clean the tracks as my husband “squeegeed” the glass. The more we cleaned, the better they looked and better we felt. Then the dark cloud rolled in as we moved upstairs. The first rain drops fell as my husband was on the roof cleaning the casing around our second floor windows. Soft droplets dusted the clean first floor windows. Within 15 minutes, it was done. But more rain was expected and we were only half-way done with our task.
Since our windows actually raise out and can be removed from the frame, we finished the windows with the rain pelting our house. We just looked at each other knowing that rain was expected, but still happy that the windows were clean. Then we walked downstairs to see that a bird had sideways pelted our sliding glass door with excrement! We had cleaned this same spot only hours before. Resigned to life’s little nuances, I try not to read into this. At least I can say that my windows are “clean.”
Spring Break couldn’t come fast enough. As my students and I stared down the clock in the final moments until the end of the day, we all wanted a break.
There are times when I an mentally take a break, but this time, I needed a physical break to separate myself from the thoughts that plagued my mind and the list that was ever-growing. Thankfully, I was taking one.
The week before break ended with flurry of test prep for students and teachers as well as the rush for essay grades to complete quarter three grades. The weeks before had been riddled with personal losses for our staff members and some very special parent emails and meetings. All of this, though, was topped off with an impromptu staff meeting that pointed to an imminent worry coming our school’s way. I couldn’t stay and have the situations harangue my thoughts any further, so the final moments crept by as I longed to rush out of the building doors.
Typically, I take the things to-do a day at a time. I fit the things that don’t fit into the schedule somewhere and generally few like I’ve accomplished at least a few things by the end of the day, but this time a mountain was building and one brick at a time just wasn’t removing it’s force.
So, I escaped. I got on the plane and went on vacation with my husband and family. Arriving, I quickly got set up with the essentials – a beach chair (from an earlier post, the chairs my husband packed were too tall to take as luggage), a thick coat of SPF 30, and a glass of lemonade. Soon, my feet were in the sand as the sun’s rays warmed my skin and erased my clouded brain. I could have thought about the things that awaited my return home – the closets that needed to be seasonally switch, the yard word that needed tending, the upcoming state testing, the media report on my school, but I didn’t think about these things. Instead, I filled my days with a morning walk and thoughts of only, do I need more sunblock and should I eat another shrimp. I vacationed so thoroughly that on the trip home, I looked at my husband and said that we needed to plan another trip. He looked at me and smiled and kindly asked when I changed my mind about staying home always.
My response was simple – I went on vacation and I liked it. I had received the break that I needed.