Monday, February 01, 2010

Good Night and Thank You

Speech Flowers

I was paged to the main office right after school let out today, but called instead. I was in the other building, about to start auditions, so I didn't want to have to run across the parking lot at that moment. The secretary said there was a delivery for me, and offered to drop it off. In between auditions about 20 minutes later, I got this lovely bouquet of flowers with a thank you note from the parents of one of my speech kids.

My principal was grinning when I got to school this morning, and he congratulated me whole-heartedly.

Former coach Ruth sent a lovely email to my principal and my superintendent, who forwarded it to the school board, raving about how great and "well-coached" the kids were.

My dean stopped by to find out how it went. He said he was proud, that he knew I had big shoes to fill, but that I should remember that I have big shoes, too.

One student said "Thank you" as I got off the bus Saturday.

And I started to feel better.

My conflicted feelings Saturday were, in part, due to exhaustion. I'm still tired. But there were other factors:

1. Ruth showed up at the meet. And I love her, and I was excited to see her, but I was also very, very hurt. I had spent the entire season living in her shadow, and just when the end was in sight and I thought we might be successful enough for me to crawl out from under it, she shows up and it became all about her again. The kids were ecstatic to see her (which was part of the problem - she got to be with them and watch them perform while I had to work in the tab room all day. I didn't even seen my team until the awards ceremony!), and I wanted to be glad for them, but I reacted in a very selfish way to her rather selfish decision ("I just couldn't stay away from the kids anymore!").

2. When I went back into the tab room, all hurt and angry at Ruth, I looked around the room at all of the other coaches who have been very gracious and kind all year and realized how very alone I was. I was at an event surrounded by hundreds of people, and I couldn't talk to a single one of them about how upset I was. They cared about me, but I knew they would be loyal to Ruth, their friend of 20 years. This ties in with

3. My realization a week or so ago how isolated most of my time is. This came to me in church when we were being pushed to have "quality gospel conversations" with people. I haven't really talked religion with anyone in a while, and I realized that was because I was spending so much time at work (and I'm certainly not going to have gospel conversations with my students). The other teachers are perfectly nice, and I could see some of them being great friends, but I don't think non-teachers realize that teachers get very little time to talk to colleagues. That plus minimal socializing outside of school amplified my sense of isolation.

4. My bishop, upon hearing the news of our win Sunday morning, said, "Congratulations! Was it worth all of the lack of sleep?" and I suddenly realized, "No. No, it's not." Which makes a predicament I need to sort out.

5. A friend at church congratulated me on the win by sarcastically saying, "Hey, that's great! You didn't run the program into the ground!" thereby verbalizing my fears and insecurities about the whole thing. Woo.

However, the thanks of that one student (out of 25! I reached a new level of empathy for the lepers story), the grin of my principal, the email sent to my bosses, and the bouquet of flowers on my bookshelf went a long way to help me push past the hurt, angry, unappreciated feelings.

Plus, today we started auditions. And THAT I know how to do.

P.S. A mom texted me yesterday to see if I could help organize a party for the speech team this weekend (as a preliminary to the banquet I'm organizing for the team in two weeks). I wanted to reply, with a sob, "But this is my first speech-free Saturday in four months!" Instead, I was very good and offered what help I could. And I was rewarded - they had a scheduling conflict and changed their minds about hosting the party. Hurrah!


  1. Anonymous11:25 AM

    See, even those things for which you do not have a psssion, you excel... My advice (unsolicited) focus on those which you are passionate about... life is too short!

  2. A haiku for you my hard working friend:

    a warm fall day,
    learning from this rock
    to do nothing

    Paul O. Williams

  3. Wanda Oberdorfer6:20 PM

    Teaching is a calling. You didn't have to earn the recognition to do this. You don't need validation. You were called to do it. No one can take that away from you. And that's something really awesome -- to be called. Do it for the calling. Not for what anyone else may think of you. Then you can focus on your hard work, and the fruit of your labor on a day-to-day basis will complete you as you complete someone else's life. I, too, teach English, Humanities, and Theater classes and Stage Crafts. I understand. It's okay. Love the art. Keep your passion open to your students every day. You'll be fine.