Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 150: Teach Like Elsa

I worry.  I worry about all sorts of things both big and small.  I worry about whether I have a stain on my shirt.  I worry about whether my pants don't look right.  I worry about whether my kids will grow up happy and healthy.  I worry about having enough gas in my car.  I worry about getting enough sleep.  I worry about being a good friend, father, husband, teacher, colleague.

I worry about covering material too quickly and too slowly.  I worry about covering it with a satisfactory amount of breadth and depth.  I worry about comparing myself to other educators.  I worry that I am not preparing my students for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and so on.

One of my major goals for this year has been to figure out a way to separate the things over which I have control from those I don't.  Students are complicated, especially ones in middle school.  In addition to all of the academic achievement that we expect from them, this is the time when they start trying to figure out who they are, what sports they want to play, what instruments they like, what types of books, movies, friends, food, activities, humor, etc.

As if that isn't enough, they are going through puberty and their bodies are raging with chemicals that they can't control.

Middle level education is an insanely complicated prospect.  Even for those who us who have done it for years, there is more to adolescent children than we could ever hope to learn.

But I worry.

At no point will I claim to be perfect, or to know how everything should be.  I, like everyone else, have my ideas about how schools should be run and how to achieve those goals.  But that doesn't mean they are right.

When I was growing up, I would fight with my parents all the time.  Most of the time, I was the only one present for those fights.  They were in my head.

I would sit and argue with them (myself) for hours, working myself up anticipating their responses to my statements and my counter responses.  I had full on screaming fights with them of which they have no memory.

I like having a plan.  Even if it isn't a good plan, it's better than nothing.  I would have these arguments in the hopes of developing a plan for the REAL conversation.  Of course, it NEVER turned out the way I planned.  My parents would come up with arguments that I hadn't even considered and had not planned for.

I can't pretend to understand how the teenaged mind works, especially since each child is different.  What I do know is that no matter how much I worry, problems will arise that I can't anticipate.  Worrying will not make them go away or be easier to deal with.

Worrying only winds my springs tighter, making it more difficult to respond appropriately when I need to.

So I'm trying to be more like Elsa.  I'm trying to find a way to let it go.

It's a process.  I'm not anywhere near where I want or need to be, but I hope I'm moving in the right direction.

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