I'm kind of a perfectionist.
I try to be cool. I try to be easygoing. I WANT to be laid back.
But there are some things that stress me out.
I've mentioned my anxiety about traveling.
But when it comes to parties and lesson planning and special events, my mind is all in the details.
I consider myself a big picture thinker but secretly, I obsess over the minutia.
It's frustrating because I want to just roll with things, but I can't I simply can't let the little things go.
An ill-timed sigh during a lesson.
An eye roll.
An exchange of glances across the room between students.
I observe and absorb everything.
And it dulls my enthusiasm.
It squelches my flame.
It takes the air out of my sails.
Sometimes I wish I could just teach two classes a day, and put everything into those two amazing lessons and really connect and engage a small class of enthusiastic students.
By the time I hit my 5th and 6th lesson of the day, the timing for each step/phrase is good, but the excitement emanating from my delivery is bad.
And by day two, lesson 10 or 11 of a 12 class stretch, I'm downright exhausted with the repetition.
And the fact that I'm not as excited at 8:45 as I am at 1:45 is rough---it is rough on me, and rough on my students.
I'm trying to find a balance.
To maintain my patience and enthusiasm no matter what.
But the perfectionist in me obsesses over the details and reactions from each and every individual that I am trying to connect with---all 330 of them every other day. (And the 300 or so that I encounter in the hallways and at bus duty or recess that will be in my class next year or had me last semester)
The sheer volume of ever-changing personalities is more than a little daunting.
Just when I finally 'get' one of my students, another kiddo has something 'going on at home' or matures or has an awkward spurt of hormones rendering their personality utterly unrecognizable.
The perfectionist in me believes that if I can teach just one great lesson, or have one great interaction with a student---'an aha! moment', it is frozen in time and I've done it, I've made a great connection!
But truth is, I'm a realist.
Since I have moved to middle school, I have learned that even though one student and I have always been on good terms, the fact that I scolded another student for being disruptive and disrespectful, means that I lose all trust and appreciation from the original student---it is one big game of who-likes-whom, and if I acknowledge innapropriate behavior in so-and-so's crush-of-the-week, suddenly I am 'mean' and 'hated' by the entire 6th grade.
Teaching middle school has very little to do with how much you know about a given subject (you are boring and everything about that entire subject is horrible), how many FUN projects you plan, (everything is stupid and lame), how much time you put into displaying art, (it gets thrown away before they walk out of the rom), prepping supplies or organizing materials (no one wants to do THAT).
Teaching middle school is more about tip-toeing between personality land mines and reading moods, gauging sugar intake levels, charting the moon phases, monitoring the barometric pressure and grasping the ever-changing flavor of the week.
What is 'cool' five minutes ago is SO last week.
Who was popular this morning is SO yesterday.
At times, I feel like the queen of mean, just for asking a few students to put away some stuff that was blocking the door way----even though I go above and beyond every single day to make sure they have what they need, what they request, they never even say thank you and those extra miles I cross are brushed away with an utterance of a few syllables. That ONE time I 'got onto' them, I'm transformed into a horrible, nasty, terrible witch of a woman.
The level of sensitivity at age 10-13 is absolutely incredible.
I get it.
I can't let things roll off my back.
I hold onto every imperfect interaction and I roll it around in my brain.
I lay awake worrying.
I try to make amends, to apologize, to make up for every scold or redirection....but what I say to one student has a ripple affect that I don't always perceive amongst the others.
And that's where the perfectionist in me fights the internal struggle.
How much do I ignore in order to maintain a good relationship with the masses?
How much will a redirection damage another relationship?
Will I turn a good student against me for having high expectations for the ones that don't or won't ever care?
Will I spend too much energy trying to reach the students that are already gone, beyond salvaging any sort of bond for whatever reason and in doing so, I disenfranchise the ones that were there all along?
Will I sever a great connection in order to mend an un-fixable one?
When someone asks: "How is school?"
All of the thoughts above flood my my mind.
I think about the students' perception, my delivery of the lessons, the quality of artwork on display, the frequency of my blogging/reflecting, the relationship that I have with my students and colleagues.
The first thought that comes to my mind is 'bad'. really bad. things are bad.
But in reality, things are fine.
Not every moment in the classroom IS perfect.
Not every moment CAN BE perfect. It is impossible.
Not ever delivery of a lesson or understanding of a concept can be perceived in an ill-timed eye roll or side-glance at a bestie.
Good relationships are built on high fives, side-hugs, a friendly 'good-morning' and a million casual interactions.
Establishing a positive existence means being able to make good connections with as many as possible, but not trying to please everyone.
It means swallowing pride, letting some things slide and trying to focus on the big picture, sometimes.
Because the details are just details, as forgotten as the waning gibbous on an insomniac bender.
Everyone remembers a full moon.
It is a full moon.
It is perfectly golden and glowing like a pearl.
But if you lay awake and notice anything that is not a perfect luminescent peach, you immediately forget that it was neither full nor crescent, it likely doesn't enter your mind as anything in particular, just a faceless orb on a sleepless night.
This is my 'slice of life' blog.
My Art Teacher Blog:
This Little Class of Mine