This will be the second in a series of blogs on things I learned from life and how they apply to life. The first is here: didacticchad.weebly.com/home/edu-life-lessons-injury
Moving is tough.
Even when it is a good thing, it is tedious, exhausting and hot. Especially when moving in Texas. In May-July.
This summer, I moved in three different ways- I moved out, I moved around, and I moved up.
I will start with the saddest parts of moving- when you leave. I spent the last couple days helping one of my best friends move out of their home and away from College Station. It hurts to see people we love leave, and at the same time, we are excited for their new journey. There is a mix of emotions that adds to the normal stress of moving out. When we moved out of our old home, I felt some of this- we were leaving where memories were made, experiences shared, and dreams birthed. But we where not leaving our town. Our friends are not just moving out, they are moving on (super secret 4th type of move coming up later).
Our students and fellow teachers move out as well. They leave their rooms yet sometimes stay in the same building. Things are mostly the same, but still different. We see them less, relationships change, and there is excitement yet sorrow at the loss of what once was.
As educational practice goes, we have to move out of doing things a certain way. We have to leave behind well developed lessons when standards change. We have to finally acknowledge that overhead projectors are NOT dynamic presentations. We have to accept that the way we learned it is not how our students learned it. So at the very least, we have to move around.
For the last two years, I have been in the basement of my school with limited interaction with other teachers.
This was not punishment.
I got the chance to move up to the second floor for next year which means some changes. Most notably for me- my Vitamin D levels should go back up as I will get some sunlight. It also means I need to alter my coffeehouse classroom design somewhat. Not a total overhaul, but adjust must be made. The first was the coffeebar lost the bookshelf backing. Mostly because there was no way I was taking a massive solid wood bookshelf up essentially three floors. Now it will be a window seat for students.
As educators, we sometimes move around. We teach new content areas, we try new things, but we are essentially rearranging the furniture a bit. We do not leave our school, maybe not even our room, but things are a bit different. This can be an exciting move, one that we choose to pursue to keep things fresh. Or, it may be mandated- in which case you still need to try to find a way to make the changes your own. Moving Around is a great way to take ownership of your educational career.
The final move I experienced was also the first move I did this summer. Or rather, moves. We moved into storage, then into a new house.
This is not recommended.
Moving Up is awesome. You move into something you define as better- perhaps bigger or newer or with something you never had before. For us, it was a spot to put the trashcan in the cabinets.
We have been using our pantry for ten years. My wife and I still go to the pantry at least once a day to throw out trash because one of the toughest parts about moving up is that you have to learn a new role.
That is true in education. I hope to move up to administration someday- and if I do, I cannot do some things the way I do them now. As a classroom teacher, my "trashcan" is in the "pantry" but as an admin, it is in the "cabinet." For me, this will be how I handle discipline. It will evolve somewhat- become more intensive and have more weight behind it, but it must still hold onto the soul of how I do it now- by focusing on relationship. See, I still put the trash in the trashcan, I do not change that key part of life when I moved up.
Finally, Moving On
I am not moving on. But someday, I might. To a new campus, a new district, a new state- even a new career. When I move on, it will not be sans all the things I have collected over time. I will take the things that matter with me.
When we Move On in education, remember to take the things that matter. The notes from parents and students, the relationships built, the memories made.
Take the things that have made you who you are- and they will move on with you.
This will be the first in a series of blogs on things I learned from life and how they apply to life.
In early April, while ACTIVELY monitoring during the STAAR EOC test, I planted my left knee and turned, immediately feeling a pop and some pain. My knees pop a lot despite my relative youth of 38- so I just thought I had sprained it. I carried on as normal for about a day, then realized it impacted my normal exercise routine that is essentially a sort of HIIT workout. So, I scaled back the workout.
By the last week of school, the knee was no better, so I went to the doctor. He did an x-ray and found nothing broken, and suggested that I get an MRI to confirm if it was a tear. We were moving over the summer, and would be on the road for two weeks before we moved into our new house, so I asked to wait. He gave me some meds, which helped a bit, but in the course of moving into storage then into the new house, the pain increased. I got the MRI and discovered I have a torn meniscus and will have surgery on July 30.
This all relates to our classrooms and campuses like this: our class/campus is our body. On any given day, a part of our body gets injured. Gets torn. A student has a bad day, gets in a fight, fails a test, gets bullied. A teacher feels alone, rejected, dejected, or gets bullied. (Yeah, it happens.) As an educator, we may feel it, recognize the pain of the injured party, but we have things to do. Lessons to prep, observations to do, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. We think the injury will go away if we just modify (or mollify) it for a bit. Give it space and time to heal. Rub the ointment of kind words on the hurt party, but do nothing to actually treat the injury.
I do not know if the tear got worse from the first injury or not. But I do know that my knee has been hurting for over three months, and ignoring it and thinking positively has not made it better. Here are the steps that have made (or will make) it better- be it my knew or your class/campus injury.
1. Got to a doctor
A doctor knows their stuff, yes, but they are primarily a different perspective. They lean on their knowledge and skill to assess your medical needs. As educators, our "doctors" are those we can go to with a different perspective than our own. Peers, friends of the teacher, even fellow students can provide a sort of expert insight into the pain in your school body. So when a teacher seems to be hurting, ask their teacher friends what is up- and when it is a student, ask their friends.
2. Get an MRI
An MRI gives a deeper picture of an injury. A school injury MRI is deeper diving into what the pain is. Asking hard questions of the one who is hurt is the best way to do this. And yes, it will hurt you. That MRI bill sure does not feel great right now. But it is needed to get to the heart of the injury.
3. Treat it
For me, it will be surgery to repair. For an EDU injury, it will- like a surgery- have risks. You will have to dig into the injury, whatever it is, and seek to repair it. Continue conversations, address wrongs and slight and actually make them right. Discipline and correction may be necessary. Change to your plan and approach may be needed. And even if it is repaired- if the rejected teacher is accepted, the bullied student gets relief- you are not done.
When my surgery is done, I will not be right back at my HIIT training and mud runs. I will be on crutches for week, then I will have to rehab. I will have to rebuild lost muscle and flexibility. When a teacher or student in our school body is injured, then repaired, they too need rehab. Broken trust or instilled fears cannot be corrected with one action. That person needs to be rehabbed- reinforced regularly- until they are strong enough to return to "activities as normal."
I am not exactly looking forward to surgery and rehab. I don't think anyone does. But I am looking forward to eventually returning to "activities as normal." If there is an injury that occurred your students or teachers over the summer, they may come back with an emotional limp. Do not wait to see if it will go away- treat it.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.