Being a teacher… ouch

Being a teacher is hard.  And by “hard”, I mean “incredibly difficult”.  What calls to mind this idea today in particular – because we all know that there are loads of reasons being a teacher is difficult – is the aspect of life outside of school.

You see, to be a good teacher, the best one can be, requires arriving early to school, working through free periods during the day, actually teaching classes, working privately with students at lunch and/or after school, and then working at least a little bit more before going home for the night.  By then, exhaustion is just about ready to set in, leaving time only enough to make it home, eat some food (maybe), and crash to bed.  And then the alarm goes off at five-something in the morning to start it all over again.  In other words, a truly dedicated teacher, at least in his/her first several years teaching a specific subject, works at least a ten-hour day daily, and has little to no time and/or energy to pursue anything else during the week.  Social life just doesn’t exist alongside being a good, dedicated teacher.

Right now, everything is working for me.  Right now, I have almost zero social obligations or immediate opportunities.  I go early and work late every day, and I have this strong sense of ‘got-it-togetherness’.  I am prepared for the following day by the time I leave for home in the evening.  But I have no active friends.  Sure, I chat with people at school from time to time, but we aren’t friends.  Besides, they all seem to be doing things for various clubs and such for the school on the weekends.  When I have wondered how things might be if I were a permanent teacher at this school, I have been almost certain that I would be staying even later for club activities, and sooner or later would find myself on campus or at activities (sports, possibly) for the school on the weekends.  It really is wonderful to be an active part of a school.  And that unfortunately means giving up most outside opportunities.

There is a delicate balance between having a life outside of school and making the school one’s whole life.  Sacrifices must be made in either case – either giving up social time for school events, or giving up involvement with the school and kids (when kids are truly at their best, too) to go get drinks or coffee with a friend or family member.  At my last two jobs, I wasn’t fulfilled as a teacher without being involved in things with kids outside of class.  Be it playing in the band for certain events, singing songs together at the community piano, coaching lacrosse, or choreographing and assisting with the musical, those were the necessary pieces to rounding out the teacher experience and being fulfilled as a teacher.  Unfortunately, those all meant giving up time that could have been spent on a life outside of school, getting to know people my own age or, believe it or not, older than I am. I could have spent the time running in the park.  But I spent it with the kids instead.  So, I was fulfilled somewhat as a teacher, and hardly at all as a person in life.

Anyway, that’s what’s been on my mind this evening, and is one of the many reasons why teaching is hard

Post-a-day 2017

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Love Notes for the World

My mom sent me an e-mail today that reminded me of one of my fun activities in college: my (love) sign.

You see, when I was in high school, I was doing partner dancing.  A guy in the dance community in Houston died at some point, and it caused people to reminisce often.  I’m not sure if I ever met the guy, because he died shortly after I began going out dancing (as opposed to just dancing at the studio and in classes), but there’s a chance our paths crossed a handful of times.  Nonetheless, I have always remembered this guy.  My friend’s dad was talking about this guy, and talked about “his signs”.  I inquired, and discovered that this guy would carry around signs – I think they were poster boards, actually – with various messages, and would use them when at the club for dance socials.  The specific example I remember was how, if two people were really flirting or kissing, he might hold up a sign that read, “Get a room.”  As this is by no means a social norm, the idea always stuck with me.

In college, for some reason, this memory arose right at the time my flatmate was in an art class and had extra art paper at home one night.  It’s the really thick, soft paper that is similar to poster board, but is used specifically for drawing or painting (or possibly both).  So, that night, I had a torn-off section of this art paper, and I decided to make my own sign.  On one side, it read, “you should, too”.  The other read, “I love you”.

I carried this poster around with me almost everywhere for the remainder of that semester.  I think I even had it while I rode my bike (actually, yes, I do remember riding my bike as I held on to it).  It was incredibly odd, but completely accepted by my college.  I was really nervous about it at first, but very quickly became comfortable with carrying around the sign.  I mean, come on… kids do all sorts of odd things in college, so this was just one more in a million odd things we would cross.

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Anyway, I loved it.  I miss it at times, even.  I don’t exactly live the same sort of lifestyle now as I did in college, however, I think I could work out something.  The thing my mom sent me was about business cards that read simply “YOU MATTER”.  And I think I want to make some more of my own things, but following this fashion of a small card that can be given to others.

When I lived in Vienna, a friend found a stash of the ‘Our Daily Bread’ cards, which is a sort of deck of little cards, where each is shaped like a bread basket and has a bible verse on it (these had German on one side and French on the other).  We handed them out to people at the train station late at night, while another friend would do his regular harp serenading for the late-night folks waiting at the station. (Yes, that is a whole other story.)

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So, I guess, my point is that I am now planning to combine these three ideas.  I don’t know exactly what I’ll put on my cards yet, but I know that I want to do them.  I can start this week, and see what comes up, see how I like them, and see what to change for the better.

 

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What I wrote with this one on Facebook, back when I originally posted it:


A girl in the WG found a bunch of little cards with Bible verses on them. One side was in German and the other side was French. I think they were made in Belgium. No one really knows whence they came, but the girl decided to start giving them out to people, specifically in the subway station when David, the harpist, would play late at nights. I am now hooked, and want always to have some on hand, that I can give out to people as food for thought – you never know what people have going on, and thus never know what might make a difference in someone’s life. So don’t let anything stop you from sharing your love and care for others. Rather, find a way to have those things that are holding you back actually Help you to accomplish that which you wish


 

Post-a-day 2017

The article my mom sent to me today

Tess and E-mails

Tonight, as I showered, I found myself thinking of Tess of the d’Ubervilles, a character from Thomas Hardy’s book of the same name.  I, therefore, began also to think about the book itself, and the events connected to my reading of the book.  I easily discovered that I wanted to share with the world a good section of the e-mail I sent to a former high school teacher of mine shortly after my conclusion of the novel.  Be forewarned: Spoilers are included (regarding the novel).

Said e-mail section:

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 Hi, Ms. B[…]!

Hannah […] here (photos attached), […] class of 2009. I was in your Junior English class of 2007-2008, and likely gave you a hard time in the various class discussions (I always have been one to challenge ideas, even if I believe them already myself, just to find a new perspective). I believe it was around the end of the school year that you gave me a copy of Tess of the d’Ubervilles. I’m not sure what I mentioned specifically that had you give the book to me, but I do believe I had asked for some sort of recommendation.

It took me forever, and I’m not sure why exactly, but I finally got around to reading the book last year (I think it got stored away when I went to college, and I just never saw it until I cleared out a lot of books in my move last March.). As I was going through it, I was captivated. There was some magic-like force drawing me to the book. Most nights, I had to force myself to stop reading and just go to sleep, Hannah! As I reached particularly exciting or nerve-wracking parts, I shared with my flatmate about the book. We eventually were both excited to see what came next – each night, after I explained what I’d read the night before, we would sit in the hallway before bed, discussing our thoughts, predictions, and hopes for the story, and then I’d go and actually read right before bed.

At the end of the book, I came storming out of my bedroom one night to my waiting flatmate (she’d already heard me fussing). I told her how the book ended, and she was flabbergasted. “Are you for real?” was the phrase of the night for the two of us. Thus the reason I am e-mailing you.

I’m hoping you can shed some light on the book for me/us. Why on Earth did we have to go through all the ridiculous and terrible ordeals with Tess, always with a lining of upbeat-ness and hope, only to find her doomed in more ways than one at the end. I mean, come on, who destroys herself so pathetically, while always acting the victim, and then deciding ‘This is what must be done,’ and going insane when an alternative arrives, landing herself in prison with a death sentence? It all just seems so outrageous. (You can sense my outrage, I imagine [Though, I wouldn’t call it outrage so much as dislike and disappointment.].)

Anyway, I can only imagine that there was something more to the book – a societal background, a cultural issue being addressed, a historical event receiving his commentary… that sort of thing.

So, do you mind shedding some light on the situation??

I realize this is a rather big question, but I figured you’d be the perfect person to ask!

[…]

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The e-mail continued on, discussing another book that I had recently re-read from her class, and asking her thoughts on that novel as well.  However, my thoughts were on Tess tonight, so I’ll leave it with the Tess section for now.

What I love about this e-mail is the fact that it exists, as well as the fact that it turned into an actual exchange between the two of us.  My high school was one where teachers were not only high quality regarding their subject areas, but impactful and accessible enough that I easily considered e-mailing one of them (and one with whom I wasn’t even all that close) when I had such an inquiry, despite the fact that this was years and years after my time studying at the school.  I just love that.  Love it, I do!
Post-a-day 2017

School Clubs

I was thinking about school clubs earlier today, a little ruffled underneath about how Japanese schools expect students to be in one club only, and to be in that one club for all of their middle school and high school years.  This is in great contrast to the USA, where we are all about the well-rounded student.  Colleges and universities just might pass up the student who only ever participated in a single club activity, despite having amazing grades, in the USA.

However, it occurred to me, as I wondered how on Earth this benefitted these kids, only learning one skill, doing only one club, that it is absolutely preparing them for their futures.  When Japanese kids graduate college, and are interviewing with companies, they – now, this is traditionally, you see – are hiring for life.  Those kids are expected to remain loyal, and to stay within the company that first hires them after college.  So, doing the same one thing every day for years in their single club absolutely prepares them to go to the same single job at the same company for the rest of their lives.  It’s just nothing like the USA, making it so bizarre (and rather depressing) to me, someone who was in upward of 15 clubs in high school alone.
Post-a-day 2017

No!Drug!

I see various posters and signs and advertisements all over the place here regarding drugs (and even “drags”), and almost every single one seems to have something about it that portrays the idea of promoting, as opposed to opposing, drugs.  

The natural phrasing seems to be, “No, don’t do that.  Do this.”  And so, we have the natural adjustment in my brain of, “No!  Drug!” to, “No, don’t do that!  Do drugs!” or, “No, don’t do that!  Drug!”  (And then, is it meaning yourself or others?)

I know that I am silly.  This in no way changes that I am using legitimate logic here, and these posters are kind of hilarious.  😛
Post-a-day 2017

Across My Dreams

In high school, I had this playlist entitled “Sleepers”.  Every night, after I turned off the lights, I would snuggle into my bed and put in one earphone (because the opposite ear was against the pillow already) to listen.  The first two songs were from the early release of the music from the film Across the Universe, “All My Lovin'” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.  The third song, which was on the playlist three times in a row, was “Iron and Wine” by The Postal Service.

I’m not too sure what had me pick these songs in particular, but there was something magical to me about them.  It was as if they were the first steps into my having beautiful dreams, that they began and represented the life I wanted, but could only dream.

Something like that, anyway.  And I was truly happy in my life at the time, too, which makes it almost silly that I wanted something more, even though I was happy exactly where I was with it all.  🙂
Post-a-day 2017