The beginning of the school year is a time of hunkering down and doing your own thing in your own classroom but it is also a time of running in to people you haven't seen in awhile, at Pro-D, at school, at meetings. Making a big move, moving from the known to the unknown, has led to some very interesting conversations with people I run in to. Generally, they go something like this:
Other teacher (with a suspicious, this-can't-possibly-be-true tone) - "So...you're not in LAT anymore, right?"
Me - "That's right. Teaching Gr. 2 French Immersion now."
Other teacher - "Wow! What a change! How's it going?"
At this point, I have a choice to make - I can choose to smile and answer "Oh, great, it's going really, really well", which is the socially expected response or I can answer honestly, which sounds a little more like "It's good. It's hard, really, really hard. There's so much I don't know, so much I didn't realize about teaching little guys." It's a little too naked, a little too honest for most people, but it's the truth. So what do I do?
For the most part, I choose to tell the truth. This is hard, it is very new to me (it's still September, after all) and I'm ok with that. I think it's important that people know that this is a huge learning curve for me but that I'm working through it, that I'm ok with not knowing and learning as I go. To hide this process is kind of like trying to hide a cannonball in the deep end - everyone already knows I've made the leap, I might as well own the noise and the mess too.
What inevitably transpires after I own the noise and the mess is this - people jump in to save me: "Oh, so and so teaches Gr. 2 I'm sure that they have stuff for you" (love that word, stuff, as if more pieces of paper will help me figure this out); "Isn't ________ (name of very experienced Gr. 2 teacher) helping you out? I'm sure she would, you just have to ask!" (which leads to me backing her up because yes, as a matter of fact, she has been very helpful). Apparently, being in the deep end means I am drowning and everyone feels the need to throw me a life raft (a well-intentioned life raft, but a life raft nonetheless).
Honestly, though? I'm ok in the deep end. It might not be pretty and I may go under every now and then but as I struggle I am learning what works for me. Floating on someone else's life raft doesn't teach me to swim; I need to learn to kick, move my arms and breathe all on my own. I'll happily take a coach or two and some tools along the way but this is my process and my learning curve; my deep end.
In her book, Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton talks about our society's need to take the pain away when we see it in others. We aren't comfortable being uncomfortable and we really aren't comfortable seeing others in discomfort. The deep end is not comfortable; it is messy and deep, so deep. But it is in discomfort that we grow and so, I must work through this discomfort on my own. I must find my own rhythm and my own stroke in order to be able to feel good about swimming.
So to those who have offered to save me, thank you. Thank you for wanting to take the discomfort away, thank you for wanting me to feel more comfortable. I appreciate it. I'm going to be ok, though. It might not be pretty, it might not be smooth, but I will figure it out. I will learn how to swim in the deep end.
PS - to those of you who have offered to jump in to the deep end with me, who have jumped in to the deep end with me, I cannot thank you enough. Having someone swimming beside me means a lot.
I woke early this morning, as I often do, to get a little bit of work done in the quiet hours of the morning before the rush of the day begins. It's one of my favourite times of day and always has been. Whether I am heading off to yoga, squeezing in a quick workout or getting a bit a planning done, the peace and quiet of those early morning hours is soothing to me. Sometimes it is hard to get up but I am always glad that I do.
This morning, my computer was taking an awfully long time to do, well, everything, so I took a moment to check a few blogs that I follow and stumbled across this little gem that spoke to me in so many ways...
"I have more questions than boxes and I had a whole lot of boxes. If I were to start a list of what I don't know, I wouldn't know where to begin and no idea where to end. I forget to breathe just thinking about it. Knowing and not knowing is full of confusion. I don't know my students. I don't know this community. I don't know the routines and rhythms of the school. I don't even know the full capacity of what I don't know."
Oh. My. Yes. I have felt like a fish out of water since the first day back. I wanted to go back to the classroom, I wanted to remember what is was to be with the same group of kids all day every day, to watch them grow and to form close relationships with them. I wanted to move to this school where I know the community is amazing. I wanted to walk with my daughters to work every day. I'm not sure I wanted to feel like this.
For 10 years I walked in to the same job, in the same building. I knew the kids, I knew the parents, I knew most of the teachers (many changed every year). Almost as important, I knew the rhythms and routines - where to find the paper when the photocopier ran out, who walked at lunch and who ate in the staffroom, that treat day was Thursday and if I could just hold off until them, something yummy would surely appear. Start up was a breeze because I had my list of things that I knew needed to get done and how I wanted to do them.
Now, I know nothing. I have never taught Gr. 2 before and haven't been in the classroom in 11 years. I have no rhythms and routines for Gr. 2. I have no rhythms and routines for French Immersion. I have a plan but only a vague appreciation for whether it is a good one or not (based primarily on what I know about 7 year olds because I happen to have one at home). There is so much to learn and figure out that sometimes I feel like I am drowning in the sheer vastness of what I do not know.
It is terrifying but I know that it is good for me. I know that pushing myself outside of my comfort zone like this was something that I needed to do; I needed to be uncomfortable to grow personally and professionally. I am working on being ok with not knowing (so. hard.) and being ok with making mistakes. I am letting go of being involved in everything and focusing on my little world. I am trying to take the pressure off of myself - to do everything, to know everything, to get it right, right away - but that is so hard. I am used to things coming easily and this is not coming easily. This move, this teaching Gr. 2, is hard. There is so much to learn, so much I don't know, that I must give myself grace or I will sink under the weight of my own expectations.
I am grateful for friends and family who put up with my uncertainty and let me know that I am ok. That I've got this. That it doesn't need to be perfect. That no matter what the most important things is that those kiddos know that I care about them and want them to be their best little selves. The rest will come. And if we don't quite learn about the life cycle of the salmon, oh well.
For now, I will take my time and figure things out slowly, one step at a time. I will remind myself (daily. hourly.) that it doesn't need to be perfect, that I can go back and declare a do over. And hopefully, eventually, this new world will feel a little less alien and little more like home.
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!