Worries and Joy

My principal pulled me aside again to tell me that he wrote an email to the superintendent in support of keeping me teaching at the high school. The district has already received its “slap on the hand” for being out of compliance. The kids have already been through enough transitions. Why not let us continue as we have for the past three months?

But as he walked away, he shrugged apologetically — as if to say, I did my best. I don’t have a lot of hope.

I was just getting into a groove. The students, if they don’t like me, were beginning to respect me — the smooth, running of a classroom was becoming a part of my daily routine. The students know they need to work on Spanish for the full fifty minutes, that copying answers doesn’t help them to learn and doesn’t help their grade, that I’m there to help, that I’m there to teach, that I expect a lot, that if they don’t pay attention all of the time they miss a great deal, and … I could feel learning taking place — if not in Spanish, in habits.

Which is the end of education. Due to Charlotte Mason, I know that if I equip my girls with good habits, they’ll be successful at anything they try. First is, the power of attention. To be able to focus on the task at hand completely is a habit gone out of style since the inundation of endless information around us — especially electronically.  Multi-tasking is considered an attribute rather than a lack of focus. Distraction is cultivated. How do you build this habit of attention? Answer: short, timed lessons. I found this to work on slovenly habits of freshmen as well as the eager little five-year old. Explain what’s expected. Give them five or ten minutes to do it. And set the timer. It’s amazing what that tick, tick, tick, tick does to a body. Wiggly, chatty freshmen work intently on an assignment that doesn’t count just because the timer is ticking. Cell phones whisk into pockets. Pencils scribble. Eyes squint. The class quiets down.

You see I’m divided here. I’ve brought homeschooling tricks into the classroom and find that good methods work anywhere, anytime, with anyone. I can feel the need in the class — those students need good habits. Maybe my replacement will build them, maybe not. But I care. I want them to learn, to grow, to thrive. I’ve built a desire to invest in these students.

But I might be back home. I long to have my girls back around me, snuggling on the couch, reading the best of the best together. Filling out timelines, writing summaries, saying narrations, reciting poetry, going for walks. At the public school, you can bring in a few tricks, but it’s a far cry from what education is supposed to be — natural, organic, intimate. I long to experience it with my family, unalloyed — even with the worry of no money and no job hanging over us.

There are worries everywhere. I should find joy where I can. Perhaps bringing home-learned habits to needy kids. Perhaps giving a whole lot more to my own.

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1 Comment

  1. Well, I teared up a bit reading this: Trying to find The balance between giving to children not your own, and giving to your own, knowing what is best for them, but fighting like hell for a bit of sanctuary in which to give it to them. This challenge sometimes weighs me down so heavily I can’t move. if I can just focus on the few minutes I have instead of the hours I don’t, that maybe mountains will get moved and so that is what i am trying to do, somewhat unsuccessfully. As I read your post, I don’t know what to root for. YOur joy, which would be back home with your girls, or your job. I am just praying that while I try to stay in the moment with my own difficult balance of work and family and homeschooling in these tough economic times where ‘the long run’ seems uncertain, I am praying that your family can also see the infinite possibilities of love, grace, and God’s tender care in the ‘now’, and that we can move mountains with our faith in the present, and that we can be open to receive it freely. It is very easy to see you all back home, the little girls in crazy outfits with a math page, a stack of left over biscuits on the table. I see it so plainly that it is hard for me not to wish for it, as I fight for my own homeschool. I don’t know, but I am praying, and hopefully with God’s help, trust.

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