I felt myself becoming aware of the darkness around me and the low rumbles from distant places. Although my mind was just waking and adjusting to the idea of being up, I began to visualize what the sky may look like if I could manage to open my eyes and peer out the window. I could imagine the electric energy glisten through the clouds. Not the fierce streaks or bolts of lightning that some storms bring. I could tell just by the consistent grumble of the thunder that it would be the type of lightning that just glows from around the edges of the night sky.
One…two…three….I laughed as I caught myself counting to see how far away the storm was and soon realizing that I hadn’t made that leap to actually opening my eyes so I couldn’t possibly know when the lightning came to start counting for the thunder. With that came the slow plinks of rain hitting the metal of the air conditioning unit. Or was it small pieces of hail? As it picked up in intensity I could tell that, yes, this was in fact something more dense then the fragility of rain.
As I lay there I contemplated opening my eyes to check the time and calculate how many more precious minutes of slumber I had. But that was when I felt the pressure of my husband’s shifting body and realized it was much nicer to take in the calming noises of the storm, snuggle up in the warmth of my bed and drift back into sleep-for however long that may be.
I started off the month of March with such vigor and excitement to try the SOL challenge. I was even more shocked when I found myself thinking about it day in and day out. And then life happened. Like a sledgehammer the fates slammed down a multitude of obstacles for me to juggle and persevere through. Unfortunately, I struggled with and made the difficult decision to focus my attention to the more pressing issues and forego the Slice of Life Challenge.
But I never stopped thinking about it. As I was overcome with guilt and a rush of emotions at the close of the calendar month I decided to pause and remind myself of why this became such a motivator in the first place. I wanted to put myself in the shoes of the students and really walk the walk of all that I preached to them and the staff in my district. I wanted to live a writers life on a daily basis to understand some of the struggles and successes that come with the job.
Before this I wrote in a journal, but that was for my personal initiatives and was very sporadic. This challenge was different because I wanted to be aware of the process and commit to the act of writing it in a new way, and it was for all these reasons that I was feeling like a failure.
But what I’ve come to realize is that even through not doing the challenge I learned A LOT. For the first time I can truly feel what some of my students may be feeling when they truly want to write a great piece and they just can’t-whether it be writer’s block or the block from outside forces that they may not want to share with me but nonetheless are requiring more of their energy and mind then they can humanly give to my assignment right now. I now have a deeper appreciation for having too many responsibilities to juggle and that even if you LOVE writing, you may just not be able to make it your top priority. So how as a teacher can I take this new understanding and still assist my students in reaching success?
Well, one lucky truth for the life of a student is that the time for writing is carved out of their school day for them. So finding the time is a little bit less of the issue. However, having time and being able to maintain focus on your ideas are two different things. This made me think back to an article or blog (I don’t remember now) that I read which said to have a Think Tank table or area in your classroom. I thought it was an interesting idea at the time but didn’t necessarily know if I felt it was necessary. However, now I could make a connection and a strong argument for why every room should have one. If a student is having a day where they are battling outside thoughts and emotions they may go to the Think Tank table and fiddle with some objects (marbles, stress balls, figurines, etc) or listen to some music. This may allow them to unwind, fidget out some of their stress and it could actually spark a writing idea.
Most importantly I realized that a part of developing a writer’s life requires compassion. Not everyday is easily a writing day. Some days may be a get lost in your thoughts and work through them in your own way. Because the reality is, I think if a teacher were to show that understanding and give that leeway, in the long run, the students would be more productive, more motivated, and more attuned to the writing process.
As they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” As I lay on the couch Thursday night I found myself worrying endlessly how I would get the sick child off the chest of the sick mommy (myself) and find enough energy to write for my Slice of Life.
If I just wrote the word ‘tired’ would that count as a post?
I struggled to determine what was top priority. The dishes still littered the kitchen counters from the attempt of a dinner for my husband when he returned home. I glanced over at the mound of laundry that was still in front of the machine.
I hated making the decision but I knew it was my job-I needed to prioritize. I needed to let something go. I needed to be okay with it.
So with a large exhale I decided the small amount of energy I had left needed to be given to my home and family. I needed to let my Slice of Life challenge go for the next few days and be okay with the idea that I could still jump back on the band wagon when we were all feeling well again. I needed to remind myself over and over and over again that although the thought of succeeding and writing all 31 days and potentially winning one of the prizes was nice, my original goal was to write in the same manner that I expect of my students. I wanted to live the writer’s life and reflect on some of the struggles or successes that come along with this. So here I am, Monday morning, feeling well, still feeling slightly guilty, but chugging along and getting back to my writing life.
The world was a kaleidoscope, all the vibrant greens and blues and whites bleeding together. My head and heart felt light as I twirled around and around, embracing the way my dress lagged slightly behind and tucked behind my back. Even though everything seemed to be moving wth super speed I felt every care diminish in the wind.
At what point do we become fearful? I wondered this exact question as I sprawled out on the couch-exhausted, reflecting on the several times that day my 18 month old daughter risked her own life without even knowing it. Attempting to dart down the front brick steps, attempting to dash up the stone walkway in the backyard, scaling the furniture until she was on top of the couch. I watched her energy and excitement for every new experience with admiration and trepidation at the same time. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a small part of my inner being felt warmed by the vague remembering of how this wonderment felt.
It’s a strange thing how comfortability,
Can lead to unproductivity,
If you live with too much complacency,
And never invite in some difficulty.
Before you know it you’re not living as joyfully,
Perhaps even concealing behind indulgency.
So maybe we all need to join in some curiosity,
And venture into the uncomfortability,
To find our true internal ingenuity.
The sound was reminiscent of the rustling bag of chips I became accustomed to throughout the winter, but this filled my soul in a way food could never do. My fingers became stained with nature’s pallet as they rustled through the bushes and dirt to fish out the remaining leaves that had escaped being bagged in the fall.
I enhaled deeply and tried to imagine a comparison that would do justice to describe the richness of nature’s smell. Although it wasn’t a terrible winter my body yearned for more warm days ahead, and as I worked I daydreamed about the haven this yard would be for my family and me in the sun filed days ahead.