The past few weeks have been intensely busy, and I’ve been feeling wiped out and drained. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been three weeks since spring break! It feels more like a lifetime! Instead of leaving school on cloud nine after a day of art with the kiddos, I’ve been leaving school grumping and dwelling on the challenging and difficult moments in my day.
I realized that my schedule has been busier than it was earlier in the year because I’ve been teaching some additional classes at the new art store in my town. My kids have also had more extra curricular commitments which has made me have to chauffeur them around more, which in turn means dinner later, and any chores or school prep get finished later too. Although the school year will be over soon, I’ve still got a lot of deadlines, and school events looming. There doesn’t seem to be such a thing as winding down, it just goes full bore up to the last day!
I was beginning to think that perhaps I just don’t have my heart in teaching any more, because I was feeling annoyed with a few students for blurting, or talking when they were supposed to be listening for instance. (I try to keep my talking to a minimum so we can maximize studio time. And kids have no restrictions on conversing and collaborating during studio time!) I don’t want to get to the point that I hate going to work! When I reflected more seriously about my feelings I knew that in my heart, teaching is my calling, and spending time with children really brings me tremendous joy. I was simply tired!
I don’t know if it’s the great weather we’ve been having, getting to bed earlier, or just realizing that I need to focus more on the positive, but I feel as if I’ve come out from under the dark cloud which was shadowing me!
We’ve had an unusually gorgeous spring, and the kids are anxious to be outside. And who can blame them? Here in the Pacific Northwest great weather has been in short supply for several years.
I came home last Friday and got my sons to come help me with some yard work outside. It was the best therapy ever! Saturday morning I got up and made a list of things I needed to do on the weekend, and I actually got most of them done! Sunday I was able to spend some time on school work preparations, which included testing a photo sensitive dye on fabric. (Inko Dye…really interesting results….looking forward to more experiments with students!)
I’ve had a great week at school so far, and I feel excited about the activities to come before school ends! And now that I’ve gotten some major tasks off of my to do list, it actually does feel if school is winding down!
Student challenges will always be there. However, having a good sense of humor, and empathy are essential! There are always alternative ways to approach problems, and there’s no sense banging one’s head against the wall, when one can tunnel under, leap over, or make a detour. Sometimes that’s changing and adapting curriculum, and sometimes it’s trying a new strategy for managing challenging behaviors.
So….enough sturm and dross, and on with artmaking! I just heard Pierce Brosnan’s interview on NPR, and I loved how he finished by saying, “It’s work. Nothing comes from nothing. It’s always about doing, and showing up, and trying to get better at the job.” That desire to stretch, try harder, and discover the “new” in what is potentially “old hat” is what keeps the flames burning and the energy flowing in any work whether it’s acting, teaching, or running a cash register at the local grocery store. And I’m so glad I haven’t thrown in the towel, because after all, life isn’t always a steady trajectory!
I just found out that today is Teacher Appreciation Day, and that my post about overcoming burn out couldn’t have been more ironically timed! I’m here to say that I appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to be a teacher, and my students are incredible teachers that I learn from every day! My most heartfelt thanks to my students for making my life immeasurably richer and for sharing your zest for the pleasures to be found in little things like watching an ant, to the big things like painting a bold stripe of red across a painting!