After 10 years in the classroom…

What do I do with all of it? Stack it up in a corner of my living room and wait for the motivation to go through it? Yes, and…

Still sitting there a week and a half later. I’m finally ready emotionally.

Feel it!

When I left the building on my last day of work, I was numb. Over the next few days, I got up early for workouts and tore apart my closet to reorganize it. Basically, I filled my life with distractions.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that when I sat and closed my eyes for my first IFS session (see last week’s post) since my last day, tears immediately began to form.

“What do you notice?” my coach asked.

“I’m sad,” I said, surprised. “Yeah…” she said, in that way that denoted her compassion and entire lack of surprise.

Why the hell would I be surprised by this? I lived and breathed teaching for a decade. I won’t list all of the things that means. If you’re a teacher — you know. If you know a passionate teacher, you should ask them about what their days feel like. Ask them what they do for their students, for their fellow teachers, for their curriculum, for the world. Ask them how often they think about something related to their job.

Long story short, feeling the sadness was intense. I felt grief. I felt irrelevant. I felt helpless. And I felt like I had years of expertise with no outlet for any of it.

Apply it!

If my transition into a new career has taught me anything, it’s that teaching skills are transferrable. I never realized this before. I remember on the days when I was feeling most burned out that I feared being completely trapped in teaching. There was nowhere for me to go. I could continue teaching, become a teacher on special assignment or become an administrator. No thanks + no thanks + no thanks = trapped.

I received new career opportunity because I created and facilitated a workshop with a group of Project Managers at Jute Creative. Our goals were to share and develop individual and group identities, essentially develop culture. Using all of the student-centered tools in my tool belt, I developed two half-day workshops. One of the founders of the company afterward said, “I have done a lot of these in my career and this one was excellent.”

So, yeah, I can run activities that are participant-centered and reach goals with well thought out rationale. Thank you, teaching. The added bonus was that I was asked to write a blog post about the activity and a designer turned my activity into an online tool. What I did with the Jute team felt honored and celebrated.

Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 1.52.51 PM
A blog post I wrote based on one of the workshops for the Jute Creative team.

Also, it turns out that the business world is about 10-15 years behind teaching (maybe more — yet to be seen) in equity work. The acronym I’ve been hearing a lot is DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).

I was at a BBQ a couple of weeks ago talking to someone in the field. She asked me what I would be doing in my new job with the agency. “Project management and also continuing to work on a project called Collective Good, which is essentially Jute’s DEI initiative.”

The friend standing with us who also works in the field looked over at me and said, “People don’t know what that is.”

While I thought this was a commonly used acronym, I’ve learned that equity is most definitely not a commonly used or understood term, and that DEI is very new to many businesses.

This is fascinating to me. While folks in education are working their asses off to close the achievement gap and get kids from all backgrounds ready for a path of their choosing, is the private sector ready for them? Is leadership in other fields outside of education using equity to inform decision making? I imagine that there might be more barriers to success than my students found in school. I want to be a part of the solutions force for this problem.

Share it!

How many original lessons and units have I created over the last ten years? I have to do some math for this one.

I’ve taught 11 courses for grades 6th-12th graders in English Language Development, Humanities, and English. That’s about 66 units of material given that each course contains about 6 units. If each unit contains roughly 14-16 lessons, that equates to around 1,050 lessons I’ve created or borrowed and reshaped.

Because I was a masochist and only taught the same unit once (see Ineffable Unit) and because things that I don’t create tend to be hard for me to teach in an authentic way, I have hundreds of lessons that I brought to students no more than a half dozen times. And I’d say there are good number of those that are worth sharing. So I will.

In the coming weeks and months, I’ve made space in my weekly posts to share lessons and units that I’ve taught that I think are worth sharing. I’m not interested in making money, and I’ll share any materials with you that you’d like. Steal, tweak, critique in the comments — whatever! But I can’t imagine doing nothing with some of the lessons that I’ve crafted. So more to come.

Let it go…IMG_1264

I have a tattoo on my arm of William Butler Yeats’ theory of the gyres, most famously referenced in Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”, which is based in Judeo-Christian thinking. While I’m not religious, I appreciate Yeats’ metaphysical theory of time and history. His theory is quite complex, but simply put, the gyres represent the beginning and the end of things. There’s chaos and messiness and beauty and order in the center, but just as assuredly as that happens so too does an ending, and from that ending a new beginning will emerge.

I have the gyres on my body because it reminds me of this simple and absolute truth. Whether I’m thinking about things much grander and more important than myself like the sixth extinction or about making life changes that lead to new chapters of life, I find great comfort in this notion.

“God is change.” Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

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