Tomorrow I begin my last week of teaching this academic year. The following week I and other 9th grade teachers have arranged a "Health Week" where all freshmen will work in teams to create a proposal about a health issue to present to a panel of judges from the community. It will be a great way to end the year. But this week each of them must focus on finishing their letters advocating about a health issue they researched to persaude their audience with a "call to action." This is project based learning, this is social justice education, and this is amazing for kids from our community to be engaged in. It is also taxing for teachers to equip them for. In August I began student teaching at this school. Though I finished in April, I came back two weeks ago as a long term sub until the end of the school year. Looking ahead to tomorrow morning, I thought of something I wrote in January, when I had just taken over teaching all the classes and creating my own curriculum for them. A friend asked me how I was doing. I replied, "I feel like I wake up each day trying to stem the tide". She asked me to explain, and I wrote this piece:
Beyond the pressure of teaching, I feel additional pressures of "shoulds" - things I should be involved in, supporting or helping. I love encouraging people in pursuing their dreams, processing their journey and pointing them to Jesus. I enjoy helping them think through ideas but often don't view that as "help" unless I also physically participate in carrying out those ideas. Though I may not physically be present feeding the homeless, helping neighbors with their yard, cleaning a friend's house as they move or counseling university students, I will invest time and energy mentally and emotionally processing all these things in addition to issues with my faith, family and friends. These "shoulds" become taxing and draining. In the past month I have had a few friends remind me that my support by listening to and engaging in their ideas is a gift in and of itself; that often that kind of caring is more unique and welcome than simply doing tasks. I am learning to remove the distractions of "what if" in order to focus on "right here, right now" Or to recycle a quote I made for myself in college: "Don't let good things prevent better things" Graduate school and teaching has forced me to say "no" to a lot this past year. It has been hard but also freeing. I know myself better, both my gifts and my joys, which refreshes my soul to both run and rest as the waves of life rise and fall.