With each week and month (and now, year) that passed without a new post here, I felt the unease of drifting farther away from the one thing I truly love to do. The one thing that is shelter for my soul, canvas for my paint, and overflow from my cup. How could I have abandoned this love for so long? The answer has to do with my inability to multitask and my compulsive dive into an all-or-nothing commitment.
Instead of becoming the long-term substitute for DS' first grade teacher last fall, over the summer I was offered a bona-fide full-time fourth grade teaching position at my kids' school--something that I had hoped for but didn't know if I would ever have the opportunity to acquire. Acquire I did. And deep, deep down I dove.
I knew that it was going to be an incredibly difficult feat. I had to learn a brand new curriculum to teach it. I had to learn students, colleagues, and administration. I had to learn how to balance work and family. I had to learn about learning. So I decided to give it my all.
Which meant here, even the cricket chirps quieted. Because they were dying from starvation. I went for months without ever a visit, while all sorts of spam comments piled up. At one point, when I tired of all the spam notification and came to delete them, I was so out of shape that I inadvertently deleted a hundred "real" comments. I was able to rescue the reader comments, but not my own. So long, comments.
If there's one thing I really learned about teaching, it is the absolute fact that a teacher's work is never done. There is always more work to do. Always.
I wanted to write a post explaining why I'd been away for so long. But that felt redundant since I wasn't going to be able keep up any writing during the school year. Any time I had a free moment, I just defaulted to my next-most-relished activity: reading (all intake and no output required). Since reading is one of the most important ingredients to writing, no?
Back when I happily announced my new job, I was overwhelmed with congratulatory love. One Dear Friend said, "How lucky for your students to have you to teach them writing!" It was a very flattering comment, but one that unsettled me quite a bit. Just because I like to write doesn't mean I know a thing about teaching others how to write. I write what comes to mind, in an order that makes sense to me, with words that communicate my feelings, to an audience that hopefully understands. How does one teach another how to achieve that? I had no idea.
Studying Lucy Calkins to teach her curriculum of reading and writing was probably one of the hardest things (among many) I had to do last school year. There was a method, a recipe, if you will, to teaching the different units of writing. So I did my job the best that I could--I studied her ways and I taught them. There is still a lot more to learn, to improve, and to reflect on in order to better teach writing. But I came away feeling that many of my students enjoyed the writing process and owned their successes.
Like the students who began fourth grade writing a huge block of words and ended by writing five paragraph essays. Or the students who began writing at home on their own time. Or the students who named each part of an essay as I highlighted and color-coded them on the Smartboard: hook, thesis, reason, evidence, transition words, and counterclaim. And the student who, at the end of the year, stated with absolute certainty aloud to the class, "For once in my life, I wish there was more writing time."
And for the umpteenth time in my life, I wish there was more writing time. Friends would say, You've got to get back to writing this summer. And I'd say, Yeah, I should. Once I spend a week getting a mental break and unwinding from this hardest-year-of-my-life. Once I get a real mental break unwinding from that week. Once I bake and cook all the things the kiddos have ordered. Once I get back from vacation. Once I finish reading all the books on my to-read list. Once.
This morning I read a list of quotes from writers about "writer's block." Margaret Atwood said, "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." Maybe I have completed all the Onces. Maybe I have succumbed to imperfection. Maybe I just wanted to write. Today.
Today, I fed the crickets. I may even shoo them away once in a while.
But one thing I do know for sure is:
This blog will live on.
If I haven't forgotten how to publish this thing.