Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cloudy with a Chance of Napping


Thank God there's a break in the heat wave today, a light cloud canopy that's making today feel like a breather. This past week was blindingly hot, and it seemed as though there was someplace different to be every five minutes. I'm thankful for the time before kids arrive to set up my classroom and for the chance to reconnect with my colleagues. But meetings with grownups and meeting new kids in the same week just take a toll. By summer's end I've completely retreated into my small world and the cloak of introversion becomes my costume de rigeur. I had to shake that off. My whole body aches this morning from the combination of thinking so much, being outgoing, standing up so much (which I'm not yet used to), and revving up for the new school year all week. I'm thankful--as ever--to have a job at a school I love, and at the same time, I am currently a sad sack of exhaustion. By 7:00 last night my eyes were almost swollen shut, either from allergies or fatigue, I'm not sure which. I need this weekend to recuperate so I can teach hard next week. In running terms, this is my rest day before the long run.

I'm listening to a memoir about anxiety while I walk right now, called Monkey Mind. It's having two interesting effects. First, it makes me really, really, really (did I say really?) glad that my anxiety pales in comparison to the author's. So do, like 90% of my life experiences. But also, it's making me think about my own anxieties a lot. And in the case of this week, my worrying about what the week was going to be like was ten times worse than anything I actually encountered. (Yes, that's generally the way it goes, too. I hear you saying duh.) I had the first week of a teacher who has been teaching for ten plus years: ordinary. I was prepared for everything I encountered. I knew what to do in order to make it a good week. There were no surprises. There was, in short, nothing to worry about.

I like what I teach because it's hard. The AP English classes challenge my mind and afford me the opportunity to work with high-level kids. Those kids are the best kind of funny, too, smart funny. They keep me on my toes because often they're more uptight and worried about everything than I am. It gives me the chance to be the calm one. And my freshmen are a completely different kind of intellectual challenge. Their behavior is a direct reflection of how much I'm on top of every single minute of time in my classroom. Working with them reminds me that every kid needs a good teacher, not just the top kids. They afford me the chance to work high level skills backward, to take things apart down to the most basic components so I can teach them. You could say I've found good balance in my schedule.

As I said the other night, our routines still feel cumbersome enough at home that there isn't much time in our day for a lot of other activity, but that's okay. The kids are happy and prepared for school; life is running smoothly here. There's something to be said for your feeling of accomplishment when you learn to anticipate your family's freak-outs before they happen. I'm so happy to have a full weekend of nothing. The freedom is so delicious right now. I may end up at school today to start grading some of their summer work, but I don't have to, nor do I have to be anywhere else. That alone makes it better.

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