Thursday, November 8, 2007 not walking

The walking experiment has been curtailed. Sprained ankle. Really bad sprained ankle. Went running, stepped on the side of the foot which "rolled" to the outside. Major pop. Yadda, yadda.
No walking all week.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sad Story

I'm not exactly getting the hang of this blogging thing. I believe you're supposed to post more than once a month!
So, walking home one Wednesday earlier this month, I ran in to aneighbor whose daugher went to school with mine. The daugher has bgun her first year teaching - a happy time because she has longed to be a teacher all her life.
And now, by early October, after being with her fifth graders for just over a month, she's already considered giving up her dream. After only a month.
Sure, starting a career for the first time in any job is daunthing but how many times have I heard of new teachers who want to throw up their hands and quit within the first few months? Starting in teaching must be very clearly the definition of disillusionment. The job is not what the new teacher dreamed it would be. And its challenges and pitfalls can be startlingly obvious in just a matter of days.
So what is it that so turns them off?
Maybe it is the pre-school meetings - one following another - that outlines task after task all to be completed over and above the job of covering curriculum and keeping order in the classroom. And thien, each meeting is followed with still more - and no time is set aside to complete the previously outlined task.
Perhaps it is the basic insecurity of facing a room of students and not feeling comfortable with pacing, timing, and effective teaching strategies.
Possibly the foremost disillusion,ment comes from being face to face witht he students who do not resemple the rows of attentive, loving students who have peopled the young teacher's imagination. No stragers to teachers, a student won't yeild his or her compliance until the new teacher has met eheir expectaitons - which include both competence and confidence - skills, that by their very nature, the average young teacher lacks.
Is there any other profession that serves up such a cold-water bath from its very first day? A medical intern, perhaps, but even they work alongside the pros on a daily basis before they are asked to face the inevitable life and death situations on their own.
The learning curve for a new teacher isn't even a curve. Its a straight vertical line that leads to either competence and confidence in short order or a destructive fireball so complete that it is evident to everyone involved.
This week we learned that our novice English teacher left, claiming never to return. Its been over a week and the rest of us have yet to hear from her.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Changing my habits

The grand experiment begins.
Through a variety of circumstances my job has changed. After working an entire career in one school district, I have switched to a school in the district where I live. Not a huge change but, as I found out in the process, one that forces the job hunter to take a look at personal/professional values. Go figure. Its a personal chance to examine a life, looking for hints of grace and then to see how that works out for a change.
So, what'd I pick?
Turned down lots more money but a two-hour commute.
Turned down a little more money working with the best and brightest in a teeny tiny school.
Chose a scosh more money to teach in the school nearby. I can walk to school!
The walking to school part has been more attractive than first imagined, and everyday my daily commute reinforces that I have made the right decision. Here's what I love about the walk:
I've seen the neighborhood I've lived in for 22 years in a new light. The elderly man who has puttered in his yard as I whizzed by in my car - or even whizzed by on a jog - is now someone I know. We've talked several times and he is anxious to share details of his past life and career with me. I have the time to listen.
I pay more attention to the weather reports. I dress accordingly and have to plan ahead. Cool mornings followed by steaming afternoons. I'm not naive. I keep imagining this walk in the howling winds I know whip through my streets in winter, but I'm determined to stick with this plan because the chance to get back in touch with the out of doors and its variety is part of the plan.
Biggest surprise: I feel five again. I used to walk to school a long, long time ago. I have memories wrapped around that daily route that chart a full seven years of growing up. And here I am again, on the downslope of a life that has always included school, getting the chance to walk a familiar route in all kinds of weather, through all kinds of growing, and thinking all kinds of new, slower thoughts.
Just yesterday, as I trod around the nuts the chestnut tree has spread all over the street, I reflexively started kicking a buckeye in front of me, as if the past 40 years were wiped away in a moment.