Figuring It Out and Going to Australia

I'm fairly short-sighted, actually and figuratively, which needs to be prefaced before I let this thought even be written down. I loved teaching this week. Two days in a row. I know.

On Friday, I had a rough day. I went out with some teachers in my hallway and after shop talk dwindled, I let it all out.
"Teaching isn't fun anymore."
Surrounded by veteran teachers nearing retirement, they all sighed in agreement.
We started sharing stories about all the dynamic lessons about foreign countries we had once taught and one came up about Australia.
Me: "I did that in student teaching!"
Them: "I was a student teacher in the 80s..."

But the sentiment was the same. Too much to do. Too many things to squeeze in. We just don't have time.

I drove past an auto mechanic service station over the weekend that resonated with me. "The easiest way to learn something is to like it first." I  am having one of the toughest years of my existence and the toughest class I've ever had, which has turned teaching into this abysmal task that sometimes I want to sleep right through. But lets just pretend for a second that I am a student teacher. I am full of ideas, secretly judge other teachers that have lost their "sparkle" and generally think I know better because I am brimming with passion and energy and ready to take on the universe. I remember using my days off to agonize over amazing lessons just for one day, scouring the web for games, hands on activities, recipes to try in social studies, science experiments, all from my reality. I loved every second. But I was bringing myself to the kids and showing all of these subjects through my eyes. And it was more rewarding than anything I had ever done.

Now, I didn't have to worry about curriculum, grades, IEPs, behavior (mild compared to my kids), meetings, parents, or data. I basically got to boil down everything  that is fantastic about teaching and do that for 4 months. I know that's not the reality. But what I do remember is loving what I did. And there's a way to at least get some of that back til June. I hope.

On Monday, I told my kids we are going to Australia. Of course they asked if we are really going and I had to tell them we are pretending. BUT we have had so much fun and it's only Tuesday. They are extremely interested and hungry for more information, none of which I have seen from some of them. Tomorrow we are finishing up our passports, receive our boarding passes and Thursday we are flying in to do a food crawl around each Australian territory in the science lab. I've invited my brother to come play his digeridoo and we will make possum masks and read "Possum Magic" and color flags and have a really fun time. Because that's what you're supposed to do when you're in elementary school and that's what I'm going to do.

When you let others define who and what you are, you tend to get rolled into their expectation for you. This can be a good thing if they just expect you to be kind and a good person. But I am now refusing to be told how to teach, what to teach, where to teach and what kind of teacher I am. You know what my strengths are? Being silly, laughing at silly, making kids laugh when they don't want to, making up stories to help kids get how to subtract, making up stories for sight word practice, really just making up stories. And instead of being a Russian work camp director (which is appropriate sometimes), maybe it's okay to rock the silly as much as I can. Because that's who I am. I chose elementary education because I wanted to share my knowledge of SpongeBob plotlines and dance to songs about chipmunks. Where in the world have I been? Getting wrapped up in what I "should" be doing because the government doesn't get it.

Let's just forget about data binders. Ok? Short of actually using data in a meaningful way (every 5 weeks), I'm done with that word. Don't say data. Don't even think the word. Because here's the thing: I'd much rather do what I love and how I think I should be teaching than be miserable trying to do it their way. And if I get to a point where they make me, I think it will be time to exit to the left.

It's interesting: once we decided to pack up all of our stuff and move across the country, all the small details of my life are suddenly full of possibility and change I was too scared of trying. I guess if I've already dove in, let's just change it all.

This would be a lovely summer to shave my head and learn how to tap dance.