Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Matching the Rhythm

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Remnants from a conference with a parent with many young children in tow...

A student returned to school today after an extended absence and struggled to acclimate to the changes. It’s hard to return to a rhythm when you have missed the escalation; the dance was slow when you left, and now it flows at a feverish pace.

It’s that time of year.

Emotions and attitudes have escalated, and all high and lows play out in dramatic fashion. This student didn’t expect everything to be so magnified, so extreme.

It’s not altogether unexpected, but it is exhausting.

This weekend was a welcome reprieve from the chaos. Content to attach myself to Curtis for 48 hours, I welcomed our less-than-efficient cleaning and grocery shopping, and embraced the generous napping and eating. He was coming off a week on nights. I was coming off another week. I doubted my ability to sleep a solid nine hours on Saturday night after three hours worth of naps during the day, but the sleep came easily, and I lingered in the quiet, welcoming a free moment to just exist.

Monday came too soon, as it often does, and the memories of biking in the sunlight, sauntering along on errands, and folding laundry over lazy conversation floated in the back of my memory as I attacked stacks of papers, practice and meet arrangements, and plans for the rest of the year. It seemed like I’d existed in another universe, just for the weekend, and like this student I reeled from the reality check I faced the moment I unlocked my classroom door.

Teaching is a spiritual experience for me, but at no time is this more present than at its conclusion. It is at this time that I am required to face a couple hard truths:
First, there is always more that could have been done, and I never could have time for all of it.
Second, the fruit of my labor, the impact of my daily forty-five minutes can never truly be measured—least of all by me in the midst of the toil.

Neither truth is easy to swallow, and reflecting on either exhausts me emotionally as I come to grips with the reality that the last day of the school year will be the last day I ever see or speak with many of my students. One day everything is finished, and I send them on to make something of themselves, to grow up, to mature, to become the person they will be.

And while that moment is fairly anti-climactic, surrounded with the pressure of posting grades, washing desks and filing paperwork, the build up to that moment leaves me perpetually nostalgic. And like it or now I find myself riding the extreme waves the students follow from day to day: glad to see you, can’t wait to see you go, glad to see you, can’t wait to see you go, glad to see you…will I ever see you again?

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