Turning Over the Hourglass

Three years ago, I was told about a change in my schedule.  I was moving from teaching seniors to tenth graders.

My world abruptly stopped, shifted.  I stood on the edges of my life and twiddled my thumbs and twisted my hands.

I was happy where I was.  I knew what I was doing and how to do it and was content.  I could see the next 13 years of my career stretched in front of me and I was happy.  

I packed up my classroom, moved everything down to my new room.  I created new material and started the process of creating a new curriculum.

The first year was guinea pig year.  I hated going through that.  After nearly twenty years of teaching, I didn’t want to feel that unconfident every again.   But I made it through the year and kept my dignity.

I went through year two.  I refined what I was doing, found my path, and walked with a little trepidation and a lot of delight.  I was ready.  Totally ready for the rest of my career to unfold in front of me and I was going to chase those years with outstretched, open hands and a delighted heart.

And now, I am wrapping up year three.  And about six or so weeks ago, a colleague (Wendy as I call her) and I were called to the main office.

I have to admit, I went through my inventory of mistakes and transgressions and couldn’t find anything so egregious that would require a conference, much less with Wendy.  She is too perfect to my Peter Pan mischievous self.

I skulked down to the office, waited with trepidation for my principal to invite us into the conference room.  I twisted my hands, knitted my fingers together, and waited.

My job was changing once more.  I was going back to seniors.  Wendy was taking over the tenth grade class.

My world abruptly stopped, shifted.  I stood on the edges of my life and stared at my hands that were steadily twisting and untwisting themselves.

I was happy where I was.  I knew what I was doing and how to do it and was content.  I could see the next 10 years of my career stretched in front of me and I was happy.  

Funny how that happens.  Funny how the anxiety and sense of grief over leaving behind my senior curriculum to take on the sophomore curriculum could twist itself into a reverse emotional experience.  I was being brought back to the world I knew and I was…happy….and miserable.

I won’t deny that I was saddened…absolutely saddened.  It’s not out of territoriality.  Wendy is amazing and will do everything that she did for my son.  She gave him hope during a hellacious year.  She gave him his own shadow and sewed it on to the tips of his toes and then lightly blew on the edges until he lifted and flew on his own.  She gave my son his own name that was completely different from mine.

Wendy is perfect and will be perfect.  I know that she will give each and every child their own shadows and will tenderly minister to them like she did to my son and they will succeed because of her.

I found my path with the tenth graders.  And I enjoyed strolling with them through world literature.  Most of all, I loved being a part of their lives for longer than the nine months of the average school year.  For the last two years, I have been able to foster relationships with former tenth graders, have been able to be an authentic part of their lives as they prepare for college and then apply for scholarships.

I will miss watching my tenth graders grow and change as the years spill and the days elapse.  I will still celebrate each of my seniors as they embark on college or professional adventures.  But…it just won’t be the same.

But that is life.  The shift.  The tossing of a pebble into a placid lake and watching the ripples move out and shift the water, change the edges into something new.  The reflections undulate, break apart, reform.

Life starts anew.

The hourglass has been tipped, rolled over.  A new part of my career is beginning.  And already, I am planning.  I have my syllabus for next year set and ready.

I have 25 editing paragraphs so I can teach topic sentence construction, topic sentence application, quoting, citing, writing commentary, building in applicable researched information, utilizing multiple resources in one paragraph.

One of the librarians and I are creating a presentation on fact-checking.  We will hopefully present this at this year’s staff development in August.

We will then adapt and translate it into something that can be used in my classroom, in any classroom.

I’m ready.  I’ve stopped twisting my hands.  Instead,  I’ll think happy thoughts…and leap.


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