Disclaimer: These words, opinions and experiences are strictly my own. In no way do I intend to criticize any one person or system, especially my fellow brilliant colleagues, administrators and beloved school district in which I work.
I’m sitting down to write this post at 2am because for the past three nights I’ve gone to bed only to wake up a few hours later with a head completely full of thoughts. What happened? and What did I do wrong? seem to be the two major questions I can’t let go of right now.
Let’s backtrack a bit. On Monday we finally started school here in BC after being on strike since mid-June. For most of my teacher friends the start to the school year has been an experience of mixed emotions and their Facebook status updates say it all: “So exhausted already”, “So happy to be back, already so tired”…you get the idea. Exhaustion combined with elation seems to be the going formula. As it happens, I am no stranger to this (totally lame) emotional experience. Going into this school year I thought I had it made. I thought getting a temporary contract or a start up TOC (teacher on call) gig would be no problem simply because my past two years of teaching have been pretty incredible in the sense of getting work right away. I thought that having two years of full time seniority under my belt would be a decent advantage going into my third year as a teacher. As it turns out, I was wrong. (Side note: I did have a start up lined up, but we were still on strike for three weeks of September, so, much to my disappointment, I never actually worked in that start up).
Like every temporary teacher in our district, I’m back on the TOC list this year until I get a contract. I honestly didn’t expect it to be this challenging to get a contract this year, especially because I landed my first full time contract last year at this time with only one year of seniority. I suspect the whole lack of contract thing has to do with the recent closure of one school in our district, the closure of a juvenile detention centre and the staggeringly large number of layoffs in our district back in May. I also suspect the extended strike has something to with the seemingly slow start to the year. I’ve been driving myself mad with this thought: how does a third year teacher end up with nothing and no prospects at the start of the school year? I even had the requisite complete and utterly disgusting seasonal meltdown (there were other contributing factors, not just school/work) the other night. My poor husband just sat there and attempted to console me while I took out all my worry, anger and rage on his brand new lululemon volleyball shirt. Like most of my meltdowns of epic proportions (they happen about three times/year), I did feel better afterward, but it didn’t fix my problems…in fact, my work related problems kind of just got worse.
So the only thing I can think of is to continue to find some sources of happiness and inspiration outside of the education-based realm, because the education-based realm is just so not doing it for me right now. My brilliant, wise friend sent me a text the other evening suggesting I find the message in all this work crazy. She said that maybe this season isn’t meant to be all chaotic and work-filled for me right now. Maybe I’m supposed to ease into the school year a bit less forcefully and a bit more gracefully. And the Universe sent me this email the other night at about 1.30am (I was awake in bed fretting from 2-4am that night…I should have just checked my email!)
So I’m trying very hard to take the advice of my important life-people, as I like to call them, and the Universe itself, and just put all this work crazy and self-created expectation on the shelf. I’m trying very hard to patiently trust this process, which has turned into an entirely different lesson of patience and trust than the one I learned from my grade 8 students last year. Who knew I had more to learn on the same topics?
A few pieces of happiness and inspiration I’ve found that are keeping me going right now include:
This book, given to me a few weeks ago from another very wise and soulful friend in education, whom I admire and adore. I suggest you find a copy and read it if you don’t already know it.
Our brand new, Pinterest inspired laundry room space, built by my husband (the man is amazing…I now want to do laundry for days!):
These two rascals. Who knew getting a cat, and then adopting his brother ten months later, would be one of the best things for my sanity? Pets are just the best.
And last but not least, our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner with a random assortment of friends. Good food and lovely friends is always a winning combo.
“Lead me where my trust is without borders” was my main mantra last fall as I entered into my first full time teaching job. I was warned that asking to “trust without borders” was somewhat of a risky prayer or mantra, if you will, but I dove in head first with that phrase repeatedly running through my mind and heart. I got messy with the whole experience and it turned out beautifully in the end. So this fall I find myself with the same quote on my lips, asking to trust without borders again, and curiously waiting to see where this journey is leading me…all while trying to stay out of my own head. Someone should pay me to do this.