Archive for October, 2011

Life as a Missing Piece (Learning to Roll)

October 5, 2011

So there were many of you who read my earlier post, and you’ve asked me (or may have been wondering) how it’s going. What’s the latest?

Have things changed? Not really.

Am I happy with the way some things are? No, but it’s the way some things are.

Do I leave school happy each day? No, but I really do wish I did.

Sigh. Can good possibly come in any of this?

Right now I know that my career, my life, is at a crossroads. It’s all about choices.

I can continue to feel myself pulled down the path toward cynicism and burnout. I can bring others with me into negativity, if I so choose. But I can’t. I won’t allow myself to change who and what I am.

Another option? I can close my door, pull myself inward and protect the remaining optimism and idealism I have. Believe me, it’s incredibly tempting. But I can’t. I can’t cut myself off, stand back and expect things to heal.

Or?

I can try to move on.

I can stand in the hallway as the students come in, then greet them with smiles, hugs, and high-fives.

I can offer to teach my colleagues a new skill with Google apps.

I can play math games with the second-grade teachers.

I can set up a message board outside my room so kids can recommend books to me.

I can take student self-assessment in a new direction, one that I’m REALLY proud of (and will post about soon).

There you have it. It’s where I am, and it’s how things are. The problems and the pressures haven’t gone away. At the same time, I talk to students and parents all the time about how challenge presents us with a chance to grow. Why shouldn’t I be different, then? I’m oddly hopeful that this challenge may be a time of struggle, but in the end it will be my opportunity to thrive.

Don’t ask me how I’ll get there. I’m not quite sure.

In the meantime, I’ll continue as I did today, listening to my eight-year-olds discussing literary themes from Shel Silverstein’s “Missing Piece Meets the Big O.” Two of the themes they chose were change and transformation, and I can hear them debating the difference between the two. (Yeah, that’s right. They’re eight. Years. Old.)

The Missing Piece (just a triangle) sits alone looking for someone to be a part of, so that it can roll. It finds all sorts of characters and tries all sorts of gimmicks and tricks to get someone to pick him up, but nothing really works.

Along comes the Big O (a circle), and the missing piece wants to roll with it. The Big O says it’s already whole; perhaps the piece could roll by itself. Roll by itself!? But a missing piece is just a triangle, with sharp corners!

The Big O’s response? “Corners wear off and shapes change.”

Change. Transformation.

Lift, pull, flop…it began to move forward…Lift, pull, flop…and soon its edges began to wear off…Liftpullflop, liftpullflop, liftpullflop…

Change.

Transformation.