Saturday, March 15, 2014

GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER

Yesterday, I was told I needed to get my act together.

The person grading me on my lack of having it all together didn't have the courage to tell that to my face.  Rather, she told it to someone else.  Whether she meant to or not, the message was passed on.  I heard it loud and clear.

I will admit it.  Most times, while I would love to be perfect, I am very decidedly NOT perfect. Most days, I fall decidedly in the imperfect, messed up, jacked up, hopelessly flawed category.  Newsflash, we all do.

And yet, for some reason, in this age when you have this gigantic audience called Facebook and Twitter, that you falsely assumes cares, you feel the need to deflect your imperfections and highlight and magnify another's.  You think it's cathartic.  I find it mean-spirited and ugly.

The funny or ironic thing is this woman?  The one that felt I needed to get my act together? She's right.  I don't have it all together.  Not by a long shot.  In fact, allow me a few moments to list the ways in which I DIDN'T have it together this week:


  1. I responded, incorrectly, to a situation.  It didn't end well.  I probably made the problem worse, not only for myself but for countless others.  I've lost sleep over that one.
  2. I have been snippy and short with colleagues.  They didn't have the back story on my week, so they most assuredly felt slighted and misjudged ... more than likely dreamed scenarios in their mind for why I have been responding in said fashion.  I guarantee none of what they came up with in their minds matches reality.
  3. The looooooong winter has worn thin on just about everyone, including the 24 children in my classroom.  Patience and level-mindedness has not been a character trait anyone has held in the last few weeks. That wears on my emotions.  I'm human.  It's bound to happen.
  4. I have piles of papers around my desk that are threatening to bury me alive.  I WISH that was a massive overstatement.  It is not.  Most of those papers? I am some how suppose to analyze or dis-aggregate or plot progress points or file or read or put into practice.  Seven months into this academic year, and I am still struggling to find the time to do that.  You'll pardon me if I am just a wee bit stressed about that.
  5. We began assessing students because our government requires it of us.  And yet, for some reason, a number of people think this is my fault.  That I single-handedly created this thing called assessment.  That I spent years of my life in school devising ways to make every one else's life a living hell with assessment.  That I am the cause for every one's child who now suffers from stress-related health issues due to testing.  Okay, this might be an overstatement, but you see where I am going with this.
  6. If we are speaking about stress-related issues, after two very ugly encounters, my jaw and neck have started aching at certain times of my day.  The seriousness of this situation is not lost on me.  However, I have 24 students that I am responsible for their well-being and education and moral compass and making sure they get to my room on time and leave school on time and in the correct transportation and then still deal with the complaints about the lack of homework or the fact that there is too much homework or that it somehow didn't meet their child's ethnic, cultural, religious, non-religious, nutritional needs ... there just isn't anytime for me to pursue why my jaw and neck are aching.  I have my suspicions, however.
  7. I have failed to inform parents of testing schedules.
  8. I had to do some last minute cancelling of programs. 
  9. I have lost notes.  I have failed to send stuff home that I said I would.  I have buried to do lists....
On top of all this and the normal, every day stuff that comes with my job, there is this: 



 I ask that you take a moment to watch it. It's purpose highlights the plight of foster children, but I wonder if you could step into the shoes of this child's educator for a moment.  Did you notice how distrustful this child was of absolutely everyone?  I bet you're thinking, "Well, rightfully so!"  And you are so absolutely right. 

Let's take this video one step further.  Let's highlight this child in the classroom, where her entire day is consumed by thoughts of whether mom will be at the house, such as it is, when she gets home and in what shape she will be in.  What about that baby brother?  Will he have eaten at all while she's been at school?  So, when the lunch lady, following school directions -- no fault of her own -- makes her throw away the food she was shoving in her pocket, and the child completely flips out, making it nearly impossible for your child to learn the Math concept I had planned to teach today ... perhaps you have an inkling of understanding?  

Perhaps not ...

I don't have my act together.  If I did, I would have made the situations for countless numbers of my students through the years right ... a long time ago, when I first became aware of the situations ... long before the authorities stepped in.  I would have donned that super cape and swooped in to save these children, found safety and security and love for these kids.  

When you get on Twitter or Facebook and you lay out your side of the story, do you stop to think about the back story?  Or are you merely working to highlight the fact that I don't have my act together?  That any of us have our acts together?

The teacher that sent home work that you felt wasn't challenging enough or wasn't appropriate enough or didn't somehow meet your child's needs?  Did you speak with her?  Did you find out her struggle for finding something that a child who doesn't like to read, whom she is trying desperately to introduce the love of reading to, was trying whatever tricks in her bag that she could in order for your child to see the joy in reading?  Or did you immediately get on Twitter and complain? 

The bus driver that took twice as long to get to your house?  Did you stop and investigate why it took too long?  Or did you shoot from the hip and immediately tweet about eight different kinds of wrong that created for your child's life as well as yours?

More than once I've been diverted or delayed only to find out later that I nearly missed a nasty accident.  If only I had my act together ... OR praise Jesus, you spared me from death or horrible injuries.

You are absolutely right.  I do not have my act together.  None of my colleagues do.  But you can be sure we will work with every fiber of our hearts and minds trying to do the best job we can for every one of our kiddos.