I’ve been pretty absent from this blog and blogging in general for a few months now. I’ve written the occasional post, but overall, I have written almost nothing and have not read too many posts longer than 140 characters. I’ve also been out of school for just over two weeks now. We’ve taken an excellent family holiday to Scotland and now that I’m back I feel like the school year is sliding off of me and I can take some time to think about it.
If you look back through this blog, you’ll notice that I don’t actually write much about my school or what is happening in it. While I want to be reflective and think about what is happening in my own classroom, I actually write very little about my building and about specific kids. I want to make sure I am protecting everyone’s privacy and I also want to make sure that I respect my employer and the social media policies they have in place.
That has meant that the last few months have been survival mode for me. I have been overwhelmed in my classroom for a whole host of reasons that I can’t delve too much in to. There has been violence, troubles with parents, attempted suicides and kids cutting. I have worked my ass off just to keep kids alive and safe. This was teachers, administrators, counsellors, RCMP, mental health professionals, parents, etc., etc. trying to work through a rash of problems and find a path through for kids.
I spent hours on the phone, in meetings and with kids and parents trying to make sure there would be 29 kids walk out of my classroom alive and safe at the end of June. We did that. And believe me, it was an accomplishment. It was terrible, stressful and an incredible burden to carry. But I realize now that in some ways, it was also reaffirming about where I am supposed to be.
A few years ago I was struggling in my classroom. I wanted out. My wife and I looked at moving back overseas. We had guidance from a host of people who helped us along the way and gave us all of the advice we could ever want. When this didn’t work out for us it was a devastating experience. It was like the death of a dream. Then, just over a year ago, I applied for the principal’s job at my school and was widely expected to get it. That didn’t happen either.
You need to understand small schools and small isolated school systems. There are around 145 kids in my school from K – 12. That’s it. It’s the only school in the community and the only one fro about an hour and a half in any direction. You can be a teacher or you can be the principal. There are no other positions to be in. I was fighting the system and struggling for change. It seemed that so many of the edtech people I knew were getting out of the classroom and moving on to different consultancies, positions and companies. I felt stuck. I was sometimes jealous of the moves and opportunities that people had for change. Living in a small community I had none of these.
Yet I’ve stuck it out. I’ve stayed in the classroom. I am beginning to see now that this is where I am meant to be. I am still interested in the big picture of education; in technology, possibility, social justice and empowerment. Probably more so than in the past. This school year coming up will be my twentieth year of teaching. I still feel that I have much to learn and many things to explore. Teaching can be awful. It can be stressful and alienating and overwhelming. It is often lonely as you struggle to keep kids alive and safe. But it is also a beautiful, very human profession where we help kids to learn who they are and help them to build a better life and a better world. It is a profession that is future oriented and focused on potential.
So even as this school year finishes sliding off of me, I can feel feel the kernel of next year’s new beginnings starting to grow.