one at a time

I try to do several things at once. Partly because I am impatient, partly because I don’t want to feel bogged down with work. When I am cooking or writing lesson plans and I have Netflix playing in the background, my necessary responsibilities do not feel tedious. But it slows me down.
I used to be the Queen of Procrastination. It worked too because it fueled my creativity drive. Under the pressure to study for an exam, some of my best poems were written ironically.
It’s not like that anymore because I am committed to my job. I want to be successful at teaching, make it a long-standing career. For that reason, I find myself waking up thinking about what I have to do for work, ready with words to write on sentence strips for the scholars to practice voice to word matching as they read, going over the list of what else needs to be taken care of. Songs or a familiar favorite tv show playing in the background is meant to soothe my nerves as I tackle on the feat to make my classroom the best in organization, preparation and connections with scholars.
Today, however, I realized it’s slowing me down. My eyes wander to the video playing than focus on the assignment at task. I’m laying in bed as I type my lesson plans and my body slides down along with my pillows further disengaging me from the seriousness of the work I am producing. Momentarily, instilling creativity in lessons becomes trivial because I want to know what is going to happen next on Grey’s Anatomy more.
I was faced with a choice: leave my lesson plans for later and binge watch or complete my work so I can move onto another task. I have so many great ideas to meet my scholars needs but it’s easy to fall into the lapse of leisure with no expectations. It comes down to learning to balance prioritizing myself and my scholars.
Being a teacher is so much about giving. I never planned on being a teacher but I always enjoyed working with kids. Baby-sitting and working in childcare taught me responsibility while mostly playing with the kids. Teaching is a lot less play; it’s about painting the beauty and tragedies of reality in small doses to young minds and help guide them to making consistent positive choices that benefit them.
I teach my scholars self-control by governing the classroom schedule, by doling out quiet work for them to do, by constant repeating reminders of how to ask a question (raise hand, not call my name or pull on my skirt) and walk in a hallway. School basics that I expect become ingrained within my scholars that they begin to apply in other aspects in their life: waiting their turn to put food on their dinner plate, listening when their sibling is speaking, remembering to complete homework every night.
But to be a good teacher, I have to self-govern my habits as well. Watching television while I am trying to be meticulous is a short-cut that slows me down. Overwhelm rises as the hours tick by because of my own choice to not compartmentalize my attention appropriately. On the other hand, instrumental (Disney/pop) music really helps the voice in my head to be rational: I’m faster when I complete what’s needed before I give myself a break; the incentive holds the exact amount of allure I need to concentrate.
Next time my scholars’ faces are scrunched up with frustration from the extensive quiet work they have to do (two workbook pages? never the problem. doing them silently on the other hand…), I am going to remember my own weakness in the struggle to maintain both expectation and joy factor while working. I’m still a little scholar at heart; if timed activities and plenty of incentives get me going, I am certain my scholars are about to flourish this upcoming week now that I’ve opened my eyes.

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loner girl

I have kept a journal since I was in middle school. There would be weeks I would write ten to twenty pages in black and white marbled notebooks (so they blended in with my school notebooks of course) and then there would be days I would invest myself in a show and be too busy to write. Watching tv shows was like hanging out with friends.

I was a loner then.

Since I started focusing on poetry this past summer and started working, I haven’t been chronicling my life. It’s mostly because I don’t have the time. But for the longest time I’ve also been debating the theme for this blog. I don’t only post poetry, though I’ve stuck to it primarily as it’s been an easy form of expressing myself. But I miss writing more.
Journaling was the key to helping me not bottle up thoughts, but it was also quick to swallow my time that I could have used to make friends to talk to. Even now, I find more comfort in writing than sharing aloud. When I am upset or grateful, everyone closest to me knows to expect a letter.

Today I realized I am still a loner. I walked into my school and the other teachers were congregating at the sign-in desk chatting about their lives. I smiled in greeting and quickly went to my class to set up. Often perceived as awkward and shy, I have to dismiss others’ notions from tainting my self-image; I am accustomed to spending a lot of time in my own head. Again, another side effect of the journaling fervor that had my nose parked in a notebook in all my classes throughout college.

I’ve been so focused on doing well in my first year teaching and trying to get ahead of all the lesson plans and homework I have to create, that I have not made an effort to connect with the other teachers at my school. I have an awesome coteacher who I am indebted to for always being able to laugh with over all the quirky happenings in our class, but our connection remains in the classroom. I’ll see the other teachers sharing about their lives and I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know if I want to.

On the first day of our professional development in August, all the teachers had to share their life maps. The teachers got very personal in detail about both their joys and moreso the tragedies in their life that have brought them to the doorstep of our school with the passion to teach. The other teachers cried; I couldn’t even think about getting that personal. I, the youngest teacher, stumbled through my words and highlighted moments that revealed just as much as a reflectory surface of a lake. Somehow though, it left me the weak link in the string of connections that was building between teachers.

I want to be open but I know it’s going to take time to build up the freedom of voice I carry in my mind (and writing) to match the words I say. So I’ll journal here.
I know if I let myself think too much about the audience reading this, my words will have an elaborate mask that only insinuates of my mental gears. Instead, I want to continue to write when I feel inspired but write honestly. Maybe there’s someone out there like me who’s struggling with his or her voice being shared and we can bond over that, we can overcome it together.

There are communities everywhere you go. To be a part of one, I’m learning you just have to put yourself out there. Best said by Anthony, J. D’ Angelo, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no community.”

gifted

as a psychology student i never bought into free hugs
i walked around with an invisible hula hoop space
curt friendly smile, it never met my eyes
school was a mission to get through
now teaching is sharpening thinking caps
increasing brain power in a regimented schedule
i feel sympathy for my five year olds craving to play
my kiddies but a student reminds me they’re scholars
i am surprised when they put their arms around my waist
all the draining backdrop effort fades when little hearts
include me, i love you they say and i learn thank you isn’t fair
no more awkward pats on heads, hugs reward substantially
the only cure for my overwhelmed nerves