Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So, As I Was Starting To Say...Here's Some Wishes!

My original intention was to get specific, wax poetic, become eloquent, if I could, about some specific wishes, and I was carried away with a song in my heart.  Here are some wishes for you that I wanted to pass along that are more straightforward.. As I move into my 6th year of counseling and 23rd year of education, I have learned some hard lessons and had some epiphanies that have helped me survive and some days even thrive.
May you have more joy than pain.
Every year, without exception, there have been wonderful moments of students making it to graduation, getting into the college of their dreams, scholarships being awarded, test scores through the roof after much hard work, smiles of satisfaction on once hesitant or unsure faces, and the awesome march forward from freshman to senior, with so many changes taking place. I have gotten to be around lots of butterflies coming out of the cocoon. The vast majority of my students go onto good things, grand times, and their high school experience is one of achievement and safety. Some days, however, all seems bleak, as a student is found to have cancer, is struggling with divorce, tragic, shattering loss of a loved one, has had to move again to a new place, one step ahead of collection agencies. That they can sit upright, much less get through a day of high expectations is daunting to them, and it is our job to bolster, to strengthen, to intervene. I hope the balance of your day is much more on the positive side. The negative takes so much more juice. Of course, it is so much more important, ultimately, to help students face.
May you find diversion during the course of your day that lifts you.
One of the great fascinations of this job for me has been that no matter how brief, to "consult", kibbitz, gossip, mull over student affairs, the weekend, the kid's game the night before, gives me a boost of confidence and energy. There is laughter loud enough to be heard 100 feet away in our lounge during lunch. Netflix has been turned on during lunch, I will admit, and 5 minutes of Words with Friends can get me invigorated.  Wandering down the hall can be constructive with conversations with teachers and students, and I can breathe better outside the cave, some days. Sometimes, I just go to the door near the back of our offices and stare at the sky for a moment. There has been construction on a seniors' village across the way for the last six months that I have stared at until I have to pull away.
May you find reserves of strength you need to stay true to your calling.
There were approximately 40 days of testing last year at MHS, and there were weeks and weeks of scheduling, then fixing scheduling, then guidance to talk about scheduling, with paperwork about scheduling. It is very easy to start to get a mentality of just grinding out your day, but the problem with that is that your job, what you were trained for, is to talk to students, to offer counseling, to be able to stand in the gap. I wish for you the ability to face with full energy the needs of your students, when they are hurting and lost, even if there is another test to give, another box to pack. To be in the moment with every single student is a very tough thing to do, and then do again and then again.
May you feel satisfied at the end of a long day.
My mom taught 2nd grade for over 20 plus years, starting in education, when I had begun school, as the last of her three boys, and there were two things that struck me every year about tangible things that she gathered from her job, besides sheer accomplishment: presents from her students at Christmas and the end of the year, with "love you" notes along the way and class photos taken at the end, that she has to this day, on the walls of her garage, that she sees going to and from her car. My mom has always been an education hero, along with being a regular hero, and I know that she has memories of every student that she taught. One of the adjustments for me has been that I may have 480 plus students in a year, with an ebb and flow, an in and out, and I can't possibly know that I have made a difference in all their lives on a daily basis. In fact, we have actually commiserated that at least we didn't "screw that one up" as a measure. This can leave me lost feeling, and it can be very frustrating to just not know what happens to all my students. I hope that you can find victories, gain toeholds. see some real results, know that you have fought your hardest, done your best, gone the distance.
May all your dreams come true.
Whatever your highest goals, your most heartfelt desires for this year might be, I hope that they all come true for you. That you feel a peace, a fulfillment, a strengthened resolve to move forward to do this very important, very misunderstood job year after year with grace and fortitude. And, that you have a great time doing it, with laughter at lunch and a cold beverage now and again. I'll buy!

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