What a year. What a semester. What a month. What a week. What a day.
I wish I could get on here and say things like the semester ended and it was the best one ever or things have been going so wonderfully that I didn’t even think to post. Unfortunately, I am not the positive pollyanna of this podcast. That title goes to David. I am the realist of the duo and, for just a moment, let’s be really real.
This semester has been one of the hardest ever. This academic year was the hardest ever (and let’s be honest, did any of us think it could get worse after the Covid year)? I joke ever year, every semester really, that this is going to be the one that starts calmly and normally and things are butterflies and rainbows. This will be the semester that I don’t feel overwhelmed from day 1. This will be the one where I stay on top of grading. This will be the one where being a teacher Yes, I’m realistic, but apparently also slightly delusional about some things.
In some ways, it feels like it should still be January and we should still be bundled up in winter coats and working through the first month of school. In others, it feels like January 2022 was years ago. In actuality, summer is almost over for a lot of educators, and we are all getting ready to ramp back up for the start of another year.
It is always somewhat like this, but what has made this so hard? I think, for starters, it is this anticipation of normal. Don’t get me wrong, I think we have all accepted that normal is a relative term and we may never see what was once normal again, but I think there is still a yearning for a beginning of a school year that doesn’t make us weary or scared. There has been a lot of nasty and ugly things happen in the past few months, and it is hard for us to know how to process it, much less determine how we can help our students process it. I also think there is a general feeling of waiting on the other shoe to drop. It seems like so many things have happened sin the past 2.5 years that it is almost like we are all waiting to see what is next on the bingo card. The constant feeling of dread/anticipation is so draining.
So how do we recover and keep rolling? I can’t answer that for everyone, but I can answer it for me and hope that helps someone else. For me, I keep thinking about what made me become a teacher in the first place. I told someone in my office today that teaching is not just what I do and being a teacher is not just who I am. For me, it is a soul deep thing. I know that because I teach everywhere I go, not just the classroom. when I am able to get all the other noise out of my head and just teach, that is when I feel revived. Have you ever had a lesson that you taught go so well that it was like leaving a church revival when you were finished? That’s what I think about. There are always going to crazy things going on and there are always going to be people that may or may not be contributing to my joy. I’m not going to think about all of that anymore. I’m going to focus on the Perfect Chaos. It’s why we named this podcast what we named it. I truly feel like the best education happens when there is just enough chaos balanced with just enough structure and a lot of passion for what we do.
So, that’s it. I’m making an intentional effort to get back to the Perfect Chaos. When everything else is overwhelming and spinning me out of control, I’m going back to what I was made to do. How am I going to do that? I’m going to focus on it. And I’m going to tell the stories about it. I’m going to write the book. Not the textbook, but just a book. A regular old book about Perfect Chaos. The realness of education. The realness of what it is like when teaching isn’t a profession, but your soul. The realness of what makes us educators. Not the toxic positivity and not the crazy negativity. Just the simple, beautiful Perfect Chaos.