Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Slice of Life - Sad, Brave, Follow your Heart

I've been sitting on this Slice of Life for a couple of weeks.  It's not my story to tell but my reflections are.  My friend is in her second year of teaching and in her early thirties.  I checked on her one day a couple of weeks ago and I was so thankful there wasn't an away softball game because I could sit and listen.  Not only did I listen, I cried with her and for her.

Here is a mature, bubbly, young lady full of life, kindness, and joy.  Sadness surrounded her this day.  As I listened, I heard; teaching isn't what I thought it was going to be, I can't keep up with all of this as her desk was a mess of papers, my heart isn't here like I want it to be, I'm spending so much time here I can't work out, or help my family when they need me.  She's talking about her extended family, she doesn't have children of her own yet.  I sensed some frustration with managing the party of a classroom and I felt her sadness but a sadness of my own because this job has gotten really hard during my twenty years of education.  She commented on not feeling the passion and then told me you just radiate passion for teaching and get us all excited.  She caught me by surprise and I've been wrestling with this thought. 

Since our time together, I find myself asking, how do I find this passion when documentation is out of control.  Testing is way overboard.  Emails come pouring in.  My friend knew the joy wasn't there for her and as I pondered her situation my sadness turned to admiration.  I've felt these same frustrations.  I don't think any of us should have to search for the joy when we get the honor to work with children daily.  But I do.  My admiration found the word brave.  My friend is being very brave.  She is leaving something she's always wanted to do and has a plan to make teaching work for her in another way.  Every time I've seen her since our day of listening and crying - she smiles, there's a skip in her step, she's giggly with excitement.  She is following her heart and will continue to make a difference. 

This week I decided the best way to find my passion was to do what I/we love.  Create.  We are publishing our poetry into a hard covered book.  Our PTO is so supportive.  They prep the chipboard, contact paper covers and are ready to help us sew with needle and thread our stories.  The final product is always joyful but the process is what I love best.  Today we edited, made better 80 poems and hand wrote new clean copies in sharpie.  Tomorrow we will create About the Author pages in Google Drive and use oil pastels to illustrate our mental images.  Thursday will be our day to color wash over the illustrations and words.  Friday is our binding day.  Next week is our Poetry Cafe, sharing.  I think it's hard to stop and enjoy teaching right now but I am definitely on the lookout and trying to plan for those moments. It boosts my passion and will hopefully guide those days when sadness comes and I am feeling worn down.

Thank you to my friend for sharing a story that will stay with me a long time.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for encouraging teachers to write and fostering this community.


  1. I completely understand her disappointment and frustration, yet am envious that she set herself free of domething that feels like a burden. Things have changed. It is too bad. But, like yourself, I find time to go rogue, to push aside the program, to create, and get messy and learn and laugh. Without it, this job is just too hard. Maribeth Batcho

  2. You must be a natural leader....one who leads by example...not intending to be the leader, but just through your passions and love of creating...others see that and model your teaching.

  3. I can sense the comfort you provided for your friend as you listened and took in what she said. Teaching is so hard... and it's getting harder. And it's not because the kids are changing (though they are becoming more tech savvy). It's because of the mandates and everything else you've mentioned. It's a shame that people can't just -- teach!

    Enjoy your week creating alongside your students, Mandy.

  4. I think it's up to each of us to set ourselves free - to create time for what matters, and get to the rest when (and how) we best can. It's a hard journey for new teachers these days...

  5. You do have passion -- there are hard times but as you said so well-- we get the honor to work with children daily. This is what matters - we change lives every day. We just need to keep it in perspective and take it one day at a time. I respect her making the decision to leave -- you need to be all-in for this job. It will be exciting to see her new path as well!!


  6. It saddens me, too, when the teaching profession wears good people down. It shouldn't. Your support for your colleague means a lot. The poetry project sounds wonderful. Please post pictures!

  7. The role of teacher has changed, it has become so much more difficult to juggle mandates, standards, behaviors. I'm glad your friend has found another way to make teaching work for her.
    You have a gift when it comes to teaching. I felt this when I read your articles on Choice Literacy. I continue to believe this as I read your posts. Your poetry creation is a perfect example. I hope you will share the final product too.

  8. My heart breaks when I read posts like this. Teachers everywhere must somehow set ourselves free - there is never enough time! Love the idea of teachers going rogue! Your poetry project is something your students will always remember and something that fills you with you joy. Do share some pics with us of the finished project.