Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Getting away with it

Sometimes as a teacher, your accidentally find yourself painted into a corner. Or you stepped on a land mine with a student, that you didn't know would trigger a blow up, and if you'd known it would have such a big response, you wouldn't have chosen that molehill to die on.

Today I founds myself in a situation like this. I was helping two students get started on an assignment we began yesterday. They had struggled yesterday to work on it, and so I was standing nearby,  gently pressuring them to get their materials out, and go to the correct webpage so that they could start the assignment. They escalated their avoid ant behaviors to the point where one boy was just repeating 'go away, go away', in a dismissive and rude tone.

I realized then that the trap had been sprung. I was nearly sure that if I walked away, they would do the assignment, but that meant letting them get away with the rude, disrespectful behavior.

I paused. It was like that moment in a TV show where the world goes into slow motion and the internal monologue voice-over kicks in mulling over the decision. I could keep fighting this, almost certainly feeding the escalation to the point where I was going to have to kick one or both of them out of the classroom, with referrals to boot. Or, I could walk away, get what I originally wanted (them to do the assignment), but give up a little bit of control or power.

I walked away. But I'm still not sure if it was the right choice. These boys have some serious lagging skills having to do with dealing with critique, and transitioning to new activities, and responding to instructions. They don't have the skill to respond well to my gentle pressure. Them telling me to GO AWAY is their version of trying to get to work. But am I in turn teaching them that they can be rude to others, show disrespect to teachers ( and by extension, coworkers or supervisors in the future) and get what they want?

No answers here, just questions. In the moment, I think I made the right choice, but am I trading the success in today's assignment for more failure in the future?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fear of parenting, side effect of teaching?

For a lot of reasons, that I won't get into here, I am thinking a lot about the possibility of adoption children, rather then having biological children. Reasons span from personal, to political, to social justice related.

But it is a scary proposition. I know you truly never know what type of child you'll get. What the genetic lottery will put together, but some things, like health during pregnancy you can control. You also know what health problems you and your spouse's family have that are risk factors.

I had a student that was adopted. They could be delightful and thoughtful, clever. They also had attachment disorder, serious emotional issues, fetal alcohol syndrome... I don't know their family, or their situation, but I do know their parents are at their wits end for what to do with the child. Having a kiddo like that scares me. I know that any child can have issues, but seeing children like this one, or other kids at my school, makes me afraid of the challenge I'm opening myself up for by becoming a parent at all, let alone an adoptive parent.

I'm so glad that I have waited to have children, and I think I want to be a mother. But it's also a scary prospect.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Clear Messages

Part of my mindfulness goals involve finding ways to do less. Be less busy. Be more intentional with how I spend my time.

Now my health is telling me the same thing. I've struggled with repeated sickness, a hoarse tired voice, and missing work for going on 5 months. I've been to the doctor, and eventually got a referral to an EMT.

He was delightful, gregarious and instantly sized me up with astonishing accuracy. "You are used to being able to do anything you want, and you aren't able to do that right now". He kept comparing my voice to Ferarri, in need of fine tuning.

Long story short, I have some small vocal nodes. He said it's nothing to be astounded by, and that someone who did not specialize in singers may not even had seen them. I also have some antibiotics to take to kick some minor sinusitis, and am supposed to call him back in a few days and let him know if I want allergy testing or a CT scan to determine if there is more making me unwell.

The message is loud and clear though. I need to be more conscientious about how I use my voice, and how I use my body.

I also received the first prescription I've ever heard of for voice lessons from a doctor.

Time to take care of myself and respect my instrument. And now, off to bed early.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Why is Minimalism always so bright white?

I'm very excited to be embarking on a journey towards simplicity with A Simple Year. It coincides with a lot of my goals around decluttering my home, preparing to move in with my partner, simplifying and de-busying my life, and being more deliberate with my finances.

I've been reading a lot more blogs about simplicity and minimalism when it comes to fashion, wardrobes and homes and a commonality that I keep seeing is white, black and pastels.
Source: ianmoorearchitects.com via stylemotivation.com

Don't get me wrong, I love a good black and white, especially in fashion. It's classy and clean. But I am a vibrant and colorful person.

Why is every single blog about minimalism and decluttering seem to think people want a pristine white (boring!) decor?

Where are my minimalists that love color and art? Clean surfaces and fewer items, a streamlines closet, everything in it's place. But with vivid design, textures and maybe a vintage feel?

Anyone help a girl out?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

MindShift - Thrift Stores

Thrifts store shopping is my family pastime. I finally accepted this when my parents came to visit a few years ago for Mother's Day and we had an hour to kill before lunch so we made a bee-line for the nearest Good Will and all came away with bags of treasures. It's in my blood.

Recent Thrift Store Find
Dance shoes! Score!
I've been working hard to pursue more minimalism and mindfulness in my possessions. The other day I took a couple of bags down to my local Value Village, and as per normal took a lap around the store to glance through coats, dress and shoes. I noticed for the first time that I was looking at the racks differently.

I've trained my eye, over the years, to pick out quality of material and construction on the rack. I hone in on the wools, silks and linens, and then consider if it would look good on me, match anything I own, or be a fun addition to my wardrobe. I arrive at the dressing room with a pile, and dive headfirst in, ruthlessly eliminating things that don't fit, don't work or I just don't like. I almost always come away with a handful of new treasures.

This time, as I cruised through my favorites, I didn't feel that same excitement wondering what new find would present itself to me. I instead found myself wondering if it went with the color palette I was focusing on (instead of the collect them all approach to color). I considered if I had any holes in my current wardrobe that I need to fill (I'm looking for a sport, high quality winter coat that I could wear hiking or out doors.... but not much else). In the past I would have simply wondered if I had anything exactly like it.

Rather then grabbing interesting colors and patterns I found myself thinking, "I don't need this, I have plenty of shirts like that, I wouldn't wear this, I have nicer dresses then this already".

It sounds like a subtle shift, but I quickly finished my lap, unimpressed, and left the store without a single purchase.

Tiny first steps for long lasting change.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Guilt over time off

November has been a rough month. I've been fighting off a cold basically since the end of September. My class has been growing, and most of my kids seem to have pretty difficult behavior issues. Lots of aggressiveness and anger. I've been in rehearsal for Night Before Christmas, and my weekends have been spent traveling to SCA events, visits to Ben, or other friends and family.

All of this is to say that I'm a little bit run down. Night Before Christmas is opening tonight and Monday night at dress rehearsal I felt that familiar twinge in my throat that indicates my voice is about to go.

I've been playing it easy, and holding back, but teaching all day plus rehearsing is totally killing me. I've also just been feeling exhausted. I decided to stay home Wednesday and sleep. I needed it, I had the sick time. Running myself into the ground does no one any good. But I felt HORRIBLY guilty.

In the past, I've been very judgey about colleagues, co-workers, cast mats calling in sick if they aren't actually sick. I've had friends call in because of hang overs, to socialize, do homework. I've never done that. I always made it to class as a student, and almost never call into work unless I'm literally throwing up, or can't get out of bed. Last year, I was actually home sick in bed for several days, laid out by a virus. At another time my colleagues made me go home because i literally couldn't speak. As a substitute I would go in when I had a cold, and some times I think I was sicker then the teacher who had stayed home.

But I have sick pay now. I have over 200 hours of sick leave now. And it's there for me to use when I'm not well. It does roll over, so I can save it for the future, in case I'm ever seriously ill. But it's there for me to use it. I am a better teacher if I am healthy. And staying home a couple of days right now can be the difference between me suffering through the last few weeks of school, or being engaged and heading energetically towards Winter Break. Not to mention, my show might be a casualty if I push myself to far.

But despite preparing, leaving good plans, and telling everyone ahead of time I have terrible guilt about taking the time. Is this anxiety? Imposter Syndrome? Am I worried I'm being lazy? What is this? Why can't I just accept that am not doing well and need the rest? I've never been particularly good at giving myself a break, and as a person who rarely gets TRULY sick, I think I often sell myself short when I'm just a bit under the weather. I may have a small cold for three weeks, instead of being laid out for just a couple of days.

Perhaps my recent focus on mindfulness and minimalism is allowing me to have more compassion for myself physically.

Either way, I'm staying home tomorrow and sleeping, and I feel confidant it's the right choice, and that guilty little voice can just shut up!

Friday, November 4, 2016

What do you do with a blank stare?

Today is Friday. In my classroom that means quiz day. I give quizzes every Friday to my students. They are typically short (2-5 questions) and are always re-takable for a higher grade.

My students slouch in and pour themselves into their desks. The energy in the room palpably falls as I remind them the expectations for the quiz. Dutifully they each complete their quiz to varied results and proceed to melt into human puddles. It's as if their heads are each made of lead and they can barely lift them from the surface of the desk, let alone sit upright enough to gaze at the board.

Despite having 30 minutes left in class (purposefully planned so I could continue instruction) I couldn't get them to do a single thing. With that level of 'quit', I am at a loss. When every other sentence out of my mouth is "please sit up, take your head off the table, open your eyes".

It's hard not to just want to scream at them "Wake up! Pay attention! I can't do this alone!".