Sometimes, a teacher has a bad day. It happens in any profession - things are a little off; a few things combine to make work harder for some reason. If you're sitting at a cubicle, it might be a frozen computer or things on the wrong forms and the beginnings of a cold. Whatever your job, bad days happen.
For me, today was a bad day. I could even quote the title of this book as an example of what I mean. It starts with no breakfast and an especially cold morning on the Oregon coast and escalates to paint everywhere and miscommunication with colleagues and a commitment that requires a 45 minute drive in the afternoon when still, nothing has been eaten yet. I was really having a pity party today. And when a teacher is having a pity party, it turns out things get even worse because selfishness is not a positive trait in a teaching and learning environment. It makes things harder than you can imagine. But most of you out there reading are teachers, so perhaps you can sympathize.
The point of the story, though, is what got me out of that funk. First, I had to realize that I was throwing a pity party and being selfish, and the child who was dropping pumpkins on the ground to "see if they bounce" was not doing that to get on my nerves - it was nothing personal. My attitude had created a touch of unproductiveness in the classroom, so I sat down and made some notes about the pumpkin experiment. And when it broke, it went into the sensory table with our other pumpkins that we have been dissecting. Problem solved. I left school and stopped by home, where I cried about fairness and sadness and everything else I could think of that has been bothering me. I got an excellent hug from my husband and he listened to my hysterical storytelling of my morning. That helped. Then I got in the car with an apple and a big bottle of water to drive to another school, where I was scheduled to do some schoolwork - an observation of a Kindergartener for a presentation on assessment that I'm working on this semester for grad school. I listened to sad music and realized that was not helping, so I changed it and sang along to the radio. I drove down the coast and saw big expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and literally let out deep, calming breaths.
Then I got to the school to find that there were no children inside; no teacher either. I started to panic that my day was not on the up and up, like I thought. But I saw some movement outside, so I went out to find the children collecting mushrooms in the forest outside their door. They were putting them in paper bags, one "kind" of mushroom for each bag. They were planning to bring them inside and classify them, sketch them, weigh them, and measure them. I was given a bag and they asked me to join in. So one hour after leaving work in a stressed tizzy, I was standing on a Pacific Northwest rainforest hillside collecting mushrooms, with the ocean roaring nearby and the care and affection of children right next to me. I stayed with them until the end of their school day and said I would be back in two weeks - and one boy asked why I wasn't coming again everyday.
He didn't ask me that because he knows me as a teacher. He did not ask me that because I am some fantastically phenomenal person, or a celebrity. Maybe he just likes playing with pattern blocks, which we did while I was there. But he was being kind and affectionate. I thought that I was cured my the mushroom picking - but I think that statement really cured me. Before visiting that school today, I had planned to spend the evening in bed by the time we hit morning snack. But I am reenergized. I'm humbled by children - right now it is that one little guy in particular - but it is the attitude that I need to start every day with. Our job is about the care and nurturing of children, no matter what the situation. And with their attention and questions and eagerness, they are caring for us, too.
If you are still reading, thank you for letting me ramble. And I would love to hear about your day, too.