Day 3: The History of Organized Chaos
Chaos. Today was chaos. Not necessarily with the kids (although I'm realizing today that I'm FAR too lenient with them...and they're beginning to walk all over me), but more so with the job itself. It's more work and organization than I can handle - and for the first time, I seriously doubt my capacity to handle it at all. Do I doubt my ability to teach or my love of teaching? No. Has reality set in that this job will challenge me more than anything else has in my entire life? Yes. A lot of yes. You see, I've always been able to remember everything....I never had to write things down.....I can remember where I saw something on a page....picture it in my mind during a test....remember appointments weeks in advance....remember phone numbers or random-ass facts off the top of my head...and if I ever forgot something that was due, or mismanaged my time (which happened often), or simply procrastinated until the 11th hour (which happened four times as often as mismanaging my time), I could always whip something together by working straight through the night...something good! I've essentially trained myself to succeed with the worst organizational skills humanly possible, because my memory, resourcefulness and ability to fly by the seat of my pants always compensated for any lack of thoroughness or planning.
My life has always been organized chaos. There are stacks of things everywhere (literally, and figuratively), but yet I usually know exactly where to go to find a specific document. Well today, amidst an ONSLAUGHT of schedule demands, forms, meetings, emails, dates, deadlines, paperwork, preparation, lesson plans, phone calls, and (oh, yeah!) eighteen fourth graders that you have to teach all day long, I realized something....one of the scariest things I've ever realized in my adult life. If I attempt to manage this job with the same system I've used for more than a decade, I will fail. 100% FAIL. BP oil spill FAIL. Sarah Palin/Katie Couric interview FAIL. Friends spin-off sitcom Joey FAIL. (Ok, I know - one more.) Crystal. Pepsi. FAIL.
I'm not being dramatic. I'm not over-exaggerating. I'm a very matter-of-fact realist (well, at least when deliberate histrionics won't get me anywhere). There is simply TOO much to keep track of using my formerly successful memory-based half-ass organizational system. What's worse? After today, it's clear to me that I've already begun failing. I'm forgetting to write back to emails....forgetting times meetings began....forgetting to check my teacher mailbox in the morning.... forgetting to hand out forms... forgetting to collect forms...
forgetting to send through attendance on the computer...forgetting to rehearse fire drills before next week comes and we have the actual fire drill.... forgetting to bring my lunch... forgetting to eat...forgetting...losing...more forgetting...more losing....and this isn't even factoring in all of the work that must be done in preparation of actually teaching. I honestly can't even EXPLAIN how much there is to remember - probably because I can't even remember all of the things I was supposed to remember to explain. Teaching would be much easier if it was just about the teaching....but it turns out, teachers have A ZILLION professional obligations in addition to the obligations to their students. More proof that Darwin was right. I MUST ADAPT NOW or I will be naturally selected right out of the teacher population.
I'm drowning in a sea of emails, paperwork, and deadlines, and the few times my ears crack the surface of the water, I can hear the waterlogged echoes of former colleagues, cooperating teachers and college professors shouting "Your first year teaching, you are going to work the hardest you ever have in your entire life." Damn. It's day three.....and I already know they are right. One time my cousin and I went swimming in the Atlantic Ocean during VERY rough seas....I'm not certain, but there might have been a hurricane a couple hundred miles off shore. We were young...and naive...and we completely underestimated the current. Despite being good swimmers, no matter how hard we tried, we kept drifting speedily down-beach.... we were only in the water for mere minutes, but thankfully, we ended up making it out (five blocks from where we entered!!) with the help of concerned parents. Right now, tonight, at 11:30pm after staying at school until 8:30pm and coming home just before 10, I feel like I'm that kid again....being swept out to sea.
Despite Dory's optimistic message, I'm too tired to "just keep swimming". I need sleep. There is so much more to talk about....I still haven't discussed the rest of the Doris story or given you the low-down on the severely emotionally disturbed boy that I have for science...and now there's new drama...i.e. Turtle no more? ...And my first education-related interaction with a parent! I guess it'll have to wait until I re-energize. There's a fabulous quote in the wonderful movie "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" which gets delivered by the film's star, the incomparable Julianne Moore (give that woman an OSCAR already!!). It's painfully simple...but MAN, does it hit home perfectly on days like these....
"I'm tired of this day. I need a new one."
at 12:17 AM