sometimes, it's hard to stay quiet, and sometimes going public hurts. I have had two interviews and sample teaching lessons in the last two months, and I have been hired for neither position. For the second, I was applying to take a classroom at the school where I teach now. When I met with the assistant principal today to talk about my application, and she told me why I hadn't been hired, I was immediately full of tears. Because, on the one hand, she may not have been right about one or two things, but on the other hand, the observations she shared from the interview committee were so dead on.
People, it's all about being authentic, and about living out in the classroom what I espouse in the faculty meeting. And in the moment, under the eye of other teachers, feeling like I am in a classroom with students that aren't mine, I fail. Over and over again, I fail. I have been making the wrong people my role models, again, because (and I wish I could get this through my head) they are not me! I have to stop using other people's tools. They don't work for me. The minute I put up a box for children to earn "points," the minute I take down names, the minute I threaten to call someone's mom, I HAVE LOST. I've lost it. I lose my cool, my resolve, my nerve, and all my fine talk about being a relational teacher and seeking to connect first? Like unto dust in the wind, dude.
I'm trying to see it as a gift: the gift of being the co-teacher again. Of not being in charge of planning. Of not having to be on the front lines of parent communications. Of getting to just be me.
Have I been me in the classroom? No. I've been me in my small groups, mostly. I've been choosing books I know the children will love, having them practice with movement and art and games. Now to find the balance between teaching lessons I didn't write, and chucking it all out the window to dance and paint all day.
I have four more days with this class as their leader. Four more days to turn it around, to give them my best. To actually dare to try something, instead of grinding -- GRINDING -- through the day, feeling nothing but regret and exhaustion at the end. Four more days to try to figure out why it is that the two African-American girls in the class are the two I am having the hardest time reaching; I have so much to unpack, so much to examine.
And it's hard. And it hurts. Every day hurts. I'm trying to trust that I am learning, and that I am in the right place, and that they want me to continue in this role, because they see potential. The school sees that I have something they need, and I need to find a way to let that shine out more.
Nothing feels easy with this job. I need to roll it all back in, and really figure it out, because if I don't it will eat me alive.
Sometimes, I really hate learning. Learning is HARD. Growth is HARD. And what happens again and again, is that I see that the path forward, is really a path back. It's a path that reminds me to be what I am, teach how I teach, and trust the children.
I need that tattooed on my forehead. Or on a BIG poster paper in my classroom. (doing that tomorrow. yep.)
It's never easy to start writing again. To sit still and let the words come as they will. I've cut myself off from the words, from the writing and the making and the creating. Creativity is like some kind of magic spring -- the water only flows if you let it flow, and the well becomes dry if the water cannot flow out of it.
I haven't been telling, or consulting, or writing. I've been teaching, but finding my way in a new school, with such different structures and parameters from those I'm accustomed to... And I feel adrift. Sad.
Did I let it go too easily, that life of creating, that took me to warm beaches and let me share my deep joy and love of story with people? I asked the Source for stability, and to put me back in the classroom. And I got what I asked for. So now what to do with it?
I'm going to offer another story/reading course later this spring. Just two weeks, because four is too much. I'm stepping away from strictures around what I can make, and what I can support, and doing what I can. There's been no activity here on the blog for four months, and nothing new offered since diving deep and coming out of the forest -- which was MAGICAL, people; simply MAGICAL -- so maybe I'm forgotten. That's okay. I'll be doing what I do here, and trying to find myself again under it all.
I'm asking questions these days -- How can one be a Waldorf teacher, teaching out of the wisdom that comes through anthroposophy, but not be in a Waldorf school (not even homeschooling)? Why, in the midwest, is Waldorf only available to those who can afford private tuition? And is a rigorous, academic-focused curriculum, focused on "data-driven" goals, really the best we can offer children affected by systemic oppression? Really?
How can I bring storytelling, beauty, music, art, practical activities, developmental movement, and reverence into an already packed school day?
Is there value in sharing stories, music, art, poetry, with children who may lack the background information to fully comprehend and learn from the piece?
Are things only of value if they instruct, and if we can teach children to analyze and comprehend? To GRASP? Or is there something intrinsic?
If eyes were made for seeing, is beauty really it's own excuse for being?
And how on earth has bedtime gotten so late at my house?
There's no end to the questions.
And I find myself wanting to hide, even here, even now. I'm afraid to be seen -- being a teacher is so very public. Can I write about my faith? About my spiritual practices? About my struggles?
Are teachers allowed to be whole people?
I'm open to conversation around any and all of these questions. And if you can tell me a story along the way, I'd love it. My well is feeling very dry.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.