Saturday, August 26, 2017

Superheroes don't cry

I didn't cry when I found out I'd be outside in one of the trailers (or the Quad as we call our set of four) this year because I know from experience about all the benefits. Being out in the Quad is a bit of a paradox because it both brings people together and keeps people away at the same time. Living in the quad is like having roommates again--you can keep the doors open and talk across the classrooms without much effort. Because of this, it's pretty impossible not to become close with your quadmates--And it's good to have close friends (your Quad Squad) because no one else will venture outside the main building to come visit you ever. Which, honestly, is also kind of nice because no one is going to bother you with a tour of the school or a pop in-visit when you are in the middle of a lesson.

As long as I'm imagining the superhero headquarters of the Quad Squad, here are some other amazing features: I'm able to staple anything and everything directly to the walls. I imagine myself with a holster slung around my hip and one stapler drawn in each hand.  Mrs. Kelly, fastest draw in the Quad! Also, I have control over my own thermostat! In the main building, we are subjected to the temperature of the day that can vary from freezing to sweltering and I used to keep an extra layer slung over the back of my chair for options. Mrs. Kelly, who wears a sweater only when she wants to! Yes, proximity to the bathroom and inclement weather means planning ahead, but I was already scrolling online for new pair of Hunter boots. Mrs. Kelly and her stylish wellies!

I didn't cry when I learned that the map changed and I would be sharing my classroom with another resource teacher. I get it--after being a classroom teacher for 13 years, I'm switching to a new role and I'm prepared to be flexible. I didn't cry--but I do admit to being surprised and slightly irritated when I learned of the new map via the summer update email. Lucky for me, my new roomie is also a superhero bundle of energy and fun and we worked hard all day Monday to unpack.  ESOL and AART, able to transform a massive pile of furniture, boxes and crates into a shared learning community in a single afternoon!

I didn't cry when I learned on Wednesday evening that the map changed again and my roomie and I were moving out of our spacious digs into a smaller, windowless workroom in our Pod. I mean, at least Pod still rhymes with Squad, right? And being back in the main building, think of all the money I'll save not shopping for new rain boots! So Thursday afternoon we spent packing our boxes, rolling up our rug, and debating about furniture as we prepared to downsize. If I did shed a tear, it would have been for our incredible custodial staff with superpower strength and extra thick back braces who moved an endless supply of furniture throughout the week. And Friday we spent the morning unpacking again, making our space happy again. AART and ESOL, able to unpack twice in one week and still be prepared to welcome students on Monday!

I didn't cry on Friday afternoon when the dust settled and the boxes were broken down and I could finally turned my attention to my week ahead. I printed out my list of ESOL students. I picked up my calendar and made the rounds to teachers, scheduling times to meet with individual students, join team planning meetings, visit classrooms. I have a total of 91 students to meet--seven different grade levels, 22 different classroom teachers--and I'm smiling! I can't wait to meet all these beautiful faces next week and begin to build relationships with them. I can't wait to learn more about them and learn how I can most effectively meet their needs. I'm thrilled to work with so many amazing teachers and hope I can be helpful to them.  At our opening kickoff, our new superintendent shared a favorite quote, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing," and my main thing is our students. Mrs. Kelly, able to say "main thing" four times in a single sentence!

So, when I returned to my new happy place with my new roommate and my new schedule, I was unprepared for an email from my principal. "Currently we do not have a teacher for the fourth grade classroom...we will need you teaching in the fourth grade classroom until we find a teacher or a substitute..." 

I get it. And don't get me wrong, I don't mind. After all, the main thing is our students. One of the things I love about the staff at our school is our sense of collective responsibility--they aren't your students or my students but we all have a stake. I'm happy to help. But after overcoming so many challenges to be prepared for next week, I suddenly felt completely unprepared for next week. On Friday afternoon at 2:30. I didn't feel like a superhero, able to transform from an ESOL teacher into a 4th grade teacher in a single bound. And I cried. Then I blew my nose in a tissue, and went down to visit the 4th grade classroom teachers who had already prepped everything for me.  I sat with the instructional coach and she helped me map out a plan for team teaching.  Everyone was helpful and thoughtful and kind and patient while my totally unspontaneous mind processed the change. "I'm sorry I cried," I told my superhero roomie. "That's OK, I cried earlier when we were packing up for the second time," she told me. "I'm sorry I cried," I told the teacher across the hall. "Hey, don't worry. I cry all the time," she responded.

And that's when I realize superheroes do cry. Because we're super humans and we care about ourselves and others, and just because we're super doesn't mean we're not sometimes disappointed or angry or grieving. Sometimes we use our capes to dry our eyes and sometimes we use our capes to fly and sometimes we put our capes in the laundry and have a glass of wine. 

So cheers to all the teachers starting school this year! I know you will take on more than humanly possible and still get it all done. Most important, you will make a difference in the lives of our students. Cape or no cape, cry or no cry, that's the main thing.
My superhero roomie

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