Me, Me, Me

Book cover finalIn one of the more annoyingly incomprehensible caprices of the internet, I have been getting “an unusually high number of blog hits” according to my WordPress dashboard-guru thingy.

This makes not one lick of flipping sense, since I have not added anything to this blog in seven months.

It’s like rewarding your biggest slacker of a student with an “A” for sitting around on his/her butt and drooling while you, the teacher, desperately try to inspire some glimmer of interest in class content.  Or life.  Or anything besides the buzzing notifications of text message love emanating from their pant pocket.  Really, it’s like this:

Me:  Blog, blog, write, blog, write, write, think, write, blog

Internet:  “You have 2 views.  They are from your parents.”

Me:  “Never give up!  Write on!  If you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll land among the stars! And all that other rainbow-y educator crap we hang on bulletin boards!” Blog, write, blog, write, bloggy blog.

Internet: “You have 1…oh, wait.  Never mind.  You have zero views.”

Me:  “This is stupid.  I quit.”

Internet:  “Your blog is blowing up!  You have eight million views!  You are so popular!  Can we take a selfie together?”

No, Internet, you fickle bastard you.

Although, to be fair, I don’t really have eight million views.  Let’s remember that when your average is two views, fifteen can qualify as “an usually high number.”  Whatevs.  I’ll take it.  Not bad for sitting around on my butt, drooling.

Except that, to be fair (again), I haven’t been sitting around on my butt.

I’ve been writing a book.

I’ve also been working at four schools with about a hundred teachers, writing three grants, running two induction programs, volunteering with a local non-profit, growing a garden, canning every damn vegetable out of my garden, pushing off leftover vegetables on colleagues, learning to cross-country ski, adopting a dog, training dog not to eat toilet paper, and trying to convince my Significant Other to fix the garbage disposal.

Any one of those things could be a full-time job.  So, not shockingly, despite the fact that my average energy level usually hovers somewhere between “Chihuahua Strung out On Crack” and “Teenagers 7th Period the Friday Before Summer Vacation,” even I haven’t been able to juggle all the demands of…everything I demand of myself.

I wrote that line, and suddenly all the incessant chatter in my brain stopped.

Everything I demand of myself.

I thought about that for a second.  I sat back, listened to the brief, welcome moment of silence in what is usally the frat party of my brain, and finally…I let it go.  All of it.

We are teachers.

We have thirty kids, ninety kids, maybe two hundred in secondary.  Some Specials teachers at my schools will see, without exaggeration, eight hundred different students over the course of nine months.  We have double the number of parents as students.  We have three, four, five lesson preps but no plan period because of an evaluation meeting, an IEP, a 504, or a student who just needed to talk. We’’ll stay late on Monday to meet with parents, late on Wednesday to attend the grade level meetings, and work into the wee hours of Thursday because we promised the we’d get the grading done before Friday.  Interim assessments are coming, report cards are due and we’re heading up prom committee which we didn’t really want, but no one else would say yes to.

And we want to know, I want to know each one of my kids so well that I can reach them personally, I can inspire them to learn, I can make them successful despite their past academic history, their family background, their race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

Me, me, me, I, I, I.

I am the only one who can set irrational “goals” for myself and set myself up to fail them.

So, yes.  It’s all on me. I demand.

I demand I land in the highest range of rubric score in the teacher evaluation system.  I demand that I be so organized I never have to do a last-minute change in my classes.  I demand that I teach according to all best practices, all day, every single day, that I return tests within 48 hours, that I never have parents angry at me, that my kids nail every single standardized test, that no one fail my class…

I demand a lot.  Of me.

I had a conversation with a new teacher this year, that went something like this:

Newbie:  “So I was here last night until about 10pm grading papers…”

Me:  “You WHAT?”

Newbie: I was here until about 10…”

Me:  “That is not okay.”

Newbie:  “I know, but I promised the kids I’d have their tests back…”

Me:  “Still not okay.”

Newbie:  “But if I didn’t stay, the tests…

Me:  “Newbie, please tell me this is the only night you’ve ever stayed until 10pm.”

Newbie:  “Er…um…”

Me:  “You’ve been staying until 10 all week, haven’t you?”

Newbie: “Maaaaybe…”

Martyrdom doesn’t make a better teacher.

I can pretend to “do it for the kids” all I want, but truth of the matter is, if I’m at the end of my rope, I’m not doing the kids any favors.  If I’m exhausted, maxed out, and setting unachievable expectations, I’m also probably short-tempered, off my game, and doing poorer teaching than I would be if I were honest about my limitations.

If you’ve ever uttered the words, “I’m doing it for the kids,” what you really meant was, “I’m doing it for myself.”

Because I want to feel needed, because I want to feel like I’m doing a good job,  Because I expect this of myself.

I, I, I.

So coming back around to my blog hiatus, last year I was in a bind.  I wanted to have time to do what I love to do (garden, hike, drink beer) as well as time to do what gives me purpose (work, write, meditate)  then there was that which had to be done (clean the dog poop off the front walk) so I had to make some hard decisions.  After much thought, much much debate, and at great personal sacrifice I…(deep breath)..I…gave up cleaning the house.

As much as I love splashing around the toilet with one of those cute little brushes, this was a sacrifice I was  willing to make.

I also acknowledged to myself that if I didn’t post on the blog every two weeks, the world probably wouldn’t blow up.  And it didn’t.  It just inexplicably started paying a little more attention to crap I’d written months previous.

And somehow, in the insanity of education and life, I managed to complete a life-long pipe dream, one mentioned many paragraphs above.  I wrote a book.

Imagine that.  An educator with enough free time on her hands to write a book.

Except that, to be fair (third time around,) it’s not that I have that much free time on my hands.  I just make it.  Because if I don’t balance what I love to do with what gives me purpose with that which must be done, turns out I’m not a very good teacher.

Balance.  I do it for the kids.

But let’s be honest.  I also do it for myself.  I had a shitton of fun writing that book.  It’s here if you want to check it out.  As a heads up, it doesn’t have diddly or squat to do with education.  It’s about sex workers in the developing world.

What?  This surprises you?  What’d you think I’d write about?  Some rainbows and unicorns collection of inspirational phrases for teachers to post on bulletin boards covered in glitter?  What a load of crapola.

I’d rather sit on my butt and drool.

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7 Responses to Me, Me, Me

  1. David Hazen says:

    We are receiving a Kindle tomorrow as a result of a bonus gift with a treadmill I got my wife for Christmas. I am really looking forward to downloading your book!

  2. singingpigs says:

    Aw, thanks David! In all honesty (not trying to self-promote) I actually think it’s right up your alley! 🙂 We should conned sometime!

  3. Anonymous says:

    A NEW POST! I have been waiting for you to come back, Teach 🙂

  4. Kat Morse says:

    YAY a new post!!! I’ve missed you. I will admit I was one of those people who went thorough all your old posts and read them all 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    I may have helped, in my masters course i posted this to a large class and told them to read the letter to new teachers. I know that when i was down in the dumps my first year this letter made me smile.

  6. good to have you bend my ear again

  7. Mike says:

    I agree with Anon above, my Master’s program totally found this blog as therapy. For all I know it was the same group. Sorry to do it a smidge too late.

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