Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another page, another chapter.

Life has always fascinated me in many different ways. If you were to simply take a step back and look at your life, you would see the direction you were heading. However, if you just took a couple steps in either direction, you could see some of the obstacles along your way. In the simplest forms of living, we almost instinctively divide our life into chapters. Actually, we divide our life into separate books, with multiple chapters, all within the same series. I often look at my life as a book of things I could, should, or would do. At one point in my life, I would have told you that no matter what choices we made in life we would inevitably end up where we were suppose to be one way or another. At another point in my life, I would have told you that our choices are the only road to take in order to reach the point we are striving for. And yet, at another point in my life, I would tell you that life is full of change and adaptation for which you must always be ready to make. However, at this point in my life, I am realizing that I was right on all accounts except they were all combined. I could never allow myself to admit that I belong somewhere or that I am fully happy somewhere because of my own superstitions. I have longed believed that I had a bit of a curse that has clung to me throughout most of my life. I know what the optimistic people would tell me, and I know what the pessimistic people would tell me. I can even gather what I would tell myself if I was reading this from a different person. If I was overly optimistic in my life, I would have already been turned completely bitter. If I was overly pessimistic, I would have barely even attempted to do half of the things I have done. Even though I am realistic, I still would have questioned most of the things I have tried to do. Yet, I am again a combination platter at different times. In my life, I have dealt with backstabbing, betrayal, heartbreak, life threatening injury or illness, bad options, lucky breaks, monumental occasions, miniscule moments, conflicting choices, loss, gain, coincidence, and much more. Reading that last statement just make me think- sounds like life. I have now lived in 6 states in less than 10 years. I have taught every grade possible in secondary education (6-12). I have worked in homogeneous school of particular races. I have coached 6 various sports at different levels. I have been indulged with the likes of admin who crossed the spectrum when it comes to that positions. My classrooms have ranged from overly crowded, below par, no windows, broken doors, so cold the desks would form condensation and then freeze, stagnant air, violence, illiterate, untrained, and disrespectful to underpopulated, multiple resources, supported, determined, charismatic, personable, and respectful. The schools themselves barely differ. Both of these were in extreme settings. They were both in poor, under privileged area. They are night and day as far as the educator to teacher ratio, but I think that has a lot to do with the kids. When I say educator versus teacher, I mean the people who are doing the job versus the people who are just at the job. Everywhere I have taught I have had to live by the numbers. Data, data, and more data is what has determined what a good teacher was. After six years in a data driven world, I realized that I was fighting a lonely battle. Data and Mr. Sanders never mix well. It should come with a warning label and 1-800 number to call when it happens. Since I have been a teacher, I have believed that the classroom is about discovery and learning. It is not meant to be a piece of paper telling me that a student can not learn or that a student needs to be given special attention while the rest of class struggles normally. I know I am always on a soapbox when it comes to teaching and perhaps that is why I have taken this new page in my life more seriously. Throughout my wanderings in my life, I have always paid attention to people and how they act or react towards various things. From my first serious job at the recreation center to my current position, I have always tried to learn as much as I could about people. I use that knowledge when working with kids almost daily. Middle school kids are a lost, confused breed of scholarly possibilities. Each student is going through life altering situation; as well as, they are trying to deal with self imposed drama and development. Students at this age are a brief explanation at humanity. They are trying to figure out who they are, where they belong, and what the word "future" really means to them. This process takes them down many unadvised roads, but they have to take them in order to learn. Junior high represents life in a much grander scale. 6 grade can be compared to the late teens and early 20's when you have to start making bigger choices, you have more responsibility than you asked for, and you are expected to know what to do in almost every situation. Of course, this carries over through the next 2 parts of life (7th and 8th grade). When you arrive to school that 7th grade year you have already made it through the transitional phase (6th grade). You know what to expect. The teachers are pretty much the same even the subjects are about the same. 7th grade is like mid-20's to early 30's. You think life is just coasting, and you become complacent and content to the point of irresponsible and lazy. Yet, you are still thought to know that your choices will greatly affect your future. The next step can go 1 of 2 ways. The first way is becoming more and more common. Because of that complacent attitude development you have now fallen behind in school, lost the trust of your parents, and run the risk of not being able to go to 8th grade. This would then mentally throw you back to 6th grade because you were not being responsible and making the right choices. Or, The second option, you will pass on to the 8th grade thinking everything will be as it was when you left the 7th grade. Upon entering the school that first day, life has drastically changed. You run into people who look vaguely familiar but have drastically changed. The classes you once thought were just the same old material rudely shakes up the expectations and holds you to even more responsibility. Teachers are less forgiving and more strict. They are constantly trying to tell you what to expect in your future. They will even go as far as to "try" to fail you. This part of middle school conflicts with 6th and 7th grade because they were trying to get you to learn responsibility, but now you are expected to know it. 8th grade can find its start as early as right after high school to as late as your mid 30's. In this part of life you can compare it to having a real job, paying bills, possibly married or with kids, money has become the only thing that can bring "happiness" because it keeps life moving forward. Sadly, a pessimist would say that life is always this way; a optimist would say that life isn't always about money and that you can be happy as long as you are doing what makes you happy, but a realist would say that this is how life will be, so plan for the future, work hard, and play hard. This chapter in my life has taken me many pages of turning, rereading, and analyzing to get to. I have looked at my life many times over with a fine tooth comb and a powerful microscope, but all I found was work= happiness because it pays the bills and keeps the stress down. After I discovered the "secret" to happiness, I was working too many hours and not really enjoying the fruits of my labor. I realized years later that happiness is a combination platter. It is best served with your family. I has taken me many years to find even a sliver of happiness in life. Up until recently, my happiness was hard to find. Teaching is part of my happiness because I am being responsible, having an impact on students during a very important part of their lives, and coming home to my family every day getting smiles and warmth as soon as I walk in the door. I hope in this chapter happiness can stay around for a while!

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