Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tug of War

Ever feel like you are in a tug of war? I've felt that way at work lately. For those of you who know what I did before teaching third grade, I'm sure you find this hilarious! "We told you so!"

As a teacher, I have had to learn how to balance my own personal beliefs about education with the "greater good". I've had to change how I teach certain skills. I've had to follow an increasingly stricter pace. I've had to chart and graph more data than I ever cared to! I've had to stay "on schedule" not only with my grade level, but also my whole district. And I have to tell you...... I don't care for it one bit!

At what point is it still about the good of the children? This year especially I have wondered that. I don't have an issue with the curriculum I'm using.... in fact, I like our reading and language arts series! I've finally figured out how I need to best teach math! Science and social studies? Well.... I'm still working on those. Not to brag, but I'm (or I used to be!) a good teacher. I enjoyed taking time for "teachable moments" and leading students in how to be good thinkers and reasoners.

However, now I feel as though I am a robot. "You...... must..... stay...... on....... pace........" "You....... must....... document......... every.......... word....... said........ by........ the.......students......" "Don't........ think......... for.......... yourself........."

Granted, these are exaggerations, but they are not that far from the truth! I have grown weary of never having enough time to teach my students. We never have enough time to practice skills before we have to assess. I'm tired of all the forms and paperwork. I'm tired of "easier" solutions that just make my life more complicated.

For example, Today........

my day started with a impromptu conference with my boss, an irrate letter from a parent, using my "extra instructional time" to call the disgruntled parent, thus leaving my students reading quietly in the hall while I used the phone. Once we got settled back into the room, it was time to leave again for a bathroom break so that we could be on schedule when the exceptional education teacher comes into our room to work with a student. (Let's not forget two of my students being taken for extra reading help then me panicing at the bathroom because I've lost two kids!) Two hours of reading instruction and practice (I STILL can't meet with every group in a day like I need to!) Time to break for lunch, then bathroom, and reading aloud from our chapter book (while students furiously try to finish any morning work they couldn't work on because they were sitting in the hall!). After our read aloud, quickly cram spelling and grammar down the students' throats.... introduce cursive writing... but, wait! It's time to leave again to go to p.e.! 40 minutes of "planning time" (HA!) for me as I furiously answer emails, put papers and notes in student mailboxes, go to the restroom (if I'm lucky), try to actually SEE my desk instead of the stacks of papers on top of it! P.E. is over, ANOTHER bathroom break, daily calendar, math warm up, review rounding.... but, SURPRISE!!!! time to leave AGAIN to go to the library! Come back from the library, work on a math test (another student leaves to see the OT) but then have to stop in the middle because it is time to pack up to go home...... get everyone in the right spot and the day is OVER!!!! (of course, then i stayed to help with tutoring, but that's another story!)

And I wonder why I feel as though I am being pulled in all directions! The saddest part? that is a "typical" (or as close to typical as I can get) day. These are the days that I hate my job because I feel as though I can't DO my job anymore. :(

So many of us have a tug of war in our own lives. Maybe, like me, it is your work life. Maybe your family has activities every day! Maybe it is your "free" time (do any of us really have free time anymore?) But we all struggle to accomplish all our goals in one or more areas of our life. I don't know about you, but when I feel pulled, I only stretch so far........... at some point, I either give in or fall apart.

So...... how do we keep from giving in? How do we keep from falling apart? For me, I find that when I am at my "rope's end" (get it? tug of war? rope's end?) it is usually because I took too much on myself. I had unrealistic expectations of what I wanted to do, or get done, or wanted things to be. In other words, I became so detail oriented, that I lost sight of the "main thing". In work, my main thing is- to prepare my students to be successful in third grade, but also to be prepared for their future education. In life our main thing should be to "love God and love others" (Matthew 22:36-40)

That's a great lesson, but I gotta be honest, sometimes I need more. Sometimes, I just need REST. I was in need of rest last weekend. Sometimes I just need to get away from my stress and rest...... mentally....... physically......... emotionally............. REST.

God promises us rest.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yu and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul." Psalm 23:2-3a

"The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." Psalm 29:11

I need rest. I need to be reminded that God provides rest. I can't let my rope (life) be pulled so long that I break. I need to be smart and learn when I need to lay my rope down and walk away. Rest, so that I can pick my rope back up another day.

Lord, Help me not to become so overwhelmed with daily life. Help me to keep my rope steady, not allowing it to be pulled in different directions. Help me to remember my focus (You). Give me rest when I am weary. Give me the wisdom to know when I need rest. Amen.

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