Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Years [NOT] Resolutions

Allow me to apologize for depriving you for so long without a peep from yours truly. 

I've been busy....

Busy worrying. [Busy eating because I was worrying.]
Busy with Christmas chaos fun. [Again, busy eating because everyone eats at Christmas.]
Busy feeling like the world might move on and leave me behind. [Probably while I'm eating.]
Busy thinking I could solve all of the problems life seems to throw my way without seeking God. [All while shoveling chocolate in my mouth.]
Busy struggling with the decision to move jobs. [Even though I said in my previous post that it was time to move on, I do confess that I haven't made much progress....maybe an inch forward. Maybe....with a yo-yo and one of Uncle Butch's cookies in my hand.]

Time at home with all the Shorties [eating], celebrating Christmas with all of my family [eating], watching lots of football [whilst eating], and staying in my pajamas most days [as I eat] has given my mind time to wind down and refocus. [And, of course, eat.]

With the year winding down and and a new one coming, there is the temptation to talk about all of the great and wonderful things I'm going to do in 2016. Some ideas that made the cut:

  • Run a half-marathon [This one came to mind as I shoveled the third syrupy meatball in my mouth on Christmas eve.  It passed quickly...the idea not the meatball.]  I settled on a goal of at least one 5k a month, starting in February.  [This way I spread out the 13.1 so by June I have run a half-marathon...just not all at once.  I think it is genius.]
  • Get my add-on degree in curriculum and instruction. [This one is still on the table, next to the Chicago style popcorn I am eating as I type.  I had extra calories to spend so I feel a little less guilty.]  Money is definitely an issue.  I can wait.
  • Give up diet Sundrop. [I just laughed, out loud, as I typed that...swear.] 

There were others on the list...write a book, get organized [another good collective guffaw from those that know me well], find a local place to take karate again [y'all will never stop laughing tonight], learn to play the piano, hike more [and not just to the mailbox and/or the fridge], and the typical get-in-shape-lose-weight-tone-up-wear-that-outfit-from-Pinterest commitments [because those always work for me].

I am going to focus on several of those things [I'm not telling all of my secrets] but I've also got a list of things I resolve NOT to do this coming year:

I am not going to throw myself under the bus anymore. [Not literally, as some of you may have hoped.]  

The great Teddy Roosevelt said it well: Comparison is the thief of joy.  

I am never going to do make up well. I'm never going to be the size I was 20 years ago. I have no sense of fashion [unless you consider being able to match t-shirts and sweatshirts with black leggings Fashion Week worthy]. Gravity will win.  I'm OK with getting older and have decided to grow older with grace instead of hating what I see. 

I am so done with worrying. Like worrying about what others think about me. [Its honestly very arrogant of me to even believe that others are worrying about me.  Just arrogant.] I know there are people that worry about me in terms of praying for me and being concerned about my well-being, etc. I mean worrying about what I have or don't have or about the decisions that I make. I worry that I'm not going to make someone happy or do the right thing or make the right decisions. I worry about worrying...seriously. [The struggle is real my friends.] 

I am over negativity.  I am guilty of being judgmental and un-gracious. Too many times than I care to admit. Today, just as God does so many times, He brought me to my knees. 

Instead of spending wasting time on gossip and things that don't matter [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the water cooler, etc.] what if I used that time to pray for people, situations, etc.? How much more would God move and how much more would I actually see when I take off these blinders caused by negativity?  

And ladies, let's help each other out. Life is not a competition. I'm only trying to outdo [and most days even remember what yesterday was] my own self. I don't have time to try and outdo this person and that person.  There is nothing better than a random encouraging text from a friend, co-worker, etc.    

[Besides, I'm way too old for drama. Way. Too. Old.]  God does not give any of us what we actually deserve. Instead, He sent grace that gave it all at a the cross. Our world is far too crazy without adding to the nonsense.  He offers me grace and mercy on the daily and I am nothing if I don't extend that to everyone I come in contact with, every single day. I am a disciple. You are a disciple. 

[This is one that I've been "stuck on" for quite a while. Bear with me.]  I don't want to just be a teacher anymore. As an educator in my 18th year in the classroom, I've seen A LOT of changes. Some changes have made sense while others have left me saying, "Huh? What just happened?" 

Just as in any profession, there are good years, bad years, and what-the-heck-was-in-the-water-when-this-group-was-born years.  Whatever the case may be, when you signed on to be an educator, you had to know what you were getting into...and by that, I mean, you had to know that you were going to be dealing with kids. These kids are the best a parent has - they aren't hiding all the "good ones" away for safe keeping.  

Here's another epiphany [always talking to myself too], teaching is not easy. If you've got it made in your classroom because its always quiet and the kids are "working" [work sheeting and textbooking it] then you'd probably be fired in another job for.....DOING NOTHING AT ALL. 

We have a HUGE responsibility as teachers...we are in charge of growing minds. You can't do that with a bunch of mindless worksheets and end of chapter questions and 58 math problems for homework. [Just a side soapbox moment here, but as a mother of 4 pretty decent children, I HATE mindless homework.  If it is an extension of learning or practice of concepts that are learned or something that is meant to extend thinking then it is worth our time. And I will be the FIRST to publicly admit that I've given mindless homework way more than I should have...before I figured out that it wasn't good practice. I'm not calling out anyone on something that I am not completely and totally guilty of myself.] If we, as educators, came in every single day and gave 150% to children in our charge instead of worrying about "the test" or that parent who is trifling or that staff meeting this afternoon we would absolutely see amazing things in our classrooms. 

Educators are our own worst enemies. Seriously. We worry so much about other people getting more resources or having better kids or the time we have to spend in getting "useless" staff development. And we are a stingy bunch of folks too.  I've never understood this need to hoard your ideas and materials and resources, especially when another teacher is new to the profession or struggling in a particular area. [Not only have I witnessed these things happen I have also been on the not-receiving end.] 

It sounds a lot like this:
Stingy Teacher: I did X, Y, and Z in my classroom. *insert hair flip*
Other Teacher: Well can I see your plans or have a copy of the materials?
Stingy Teacher: I'd rather not share.  I'm afraid someone might use them *collective gasp heard worldwide* and then ALL of the kids in the school would grow.  Your kids cannot grow as much as my kids. 

The following is a true story that will warm your heart [and possibly make you want to punch a small kitten] A teacher attends a meeting where one person is sharing [I use that term "sharing" very loosely] a lesson with about 10 other teachers [that they can actually use in their own classrooms] involving using clickers [handheld devices for students to click in answers] for review. 

And here is what was said: "Well, the clickers stay in my room. We use them all the time. You can't borrow them. Sorry." 
*Promptly filed lesson plan that was "shared" in file 13 [AKA the trashcan]*

Teaching isn't a beauty pageant or a NASCAR race so why the competition?   Aren't we all in the same boat here when it comes to educating children? Baffles me beyond anything I've ever seen in my life. 

BE WILLING TO TRY NEW THINGS. [Trust don't know it all.  Ideas and change aren't always bad.  Be willing to make some changes even if it makes your job a little harder. Sometimes a good swift kick will do us some good.] 

Now for any of my teacher friends [past or current] this is directed at me as much as it is to every teacher. I am not "calling anyone out" or throwing accusations. Like I said, these things have been on my heart. 

No, we cannot change every kid.  
We cannot wave a magic wand and fix issues.
We cannot make them pay us more.
We cannot make the "powers that be" see what we see on a daily basis.

Many times though, we lose sight of the important things for the sake of the not-so-important-things. We [myself included] take too much for granted in education. 

We have steady incomes. 
We have paid time off. 
We have a great retirement plan. 

Better than anything else, we have the opportunity [and the enormous responsibility] to make such a huge impact in so many lives. We can't just be teachers anymore. Teaching isn't just a job.

This year, I do have some resolutions and some things I desperately need to work on in my own life.  I also hope to let go of some extra baggage that I've held on to for way too long. 

I will end with Molly's favorite verse.

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