So, it’s been a complicated day-one I am anxious to crawl into bed and escape as soon as humanly possible. I mean, if I’ve learned anything in this first year of being a principal, I’ve learned that Monday equates to insanity at school, but today has felt tougher than most. It was as though the day approached as I awoke, said, “She will do” and then proceeded to hang its weight on my shoulders, a weight that would grow heavier with each passing hour with no relief in sight.
I’m not so naive or inwardly focused to assume that I am alone in this feeling today. Mondays have developed a reputation for a reason, I suppose (though I still await the day Mondays prove us all wrong…). I only note it as a disclaimer of sorts before I really begin this piece, a piece that will have to develop itself out of my rambling because I’m simply not sure of my direction. My eyes are heavy and the words are coming slowly as nudges toward sleep grow stronger, but there is no choice except to persevere and keep clicking keys.
I’ve been keeping my students filled in on this writing challenge of mine, letting them know how the writing is going, the ways in which they’ve inspired me to write, the things I’m considering as I write. My intent is to show them that their teacher is there with them, doing the hard work and not just assigning it. My intent is to honestly portray how hard it is from time to time for me to publish work that I don’t 100% love, even to an unknown audience, simply because I know that with a few more days or hours the piece would have been better. My intent is to reveal to them that when you have a passion, when you have a curiosity, you owe it to yourself to chase it wildly and freely without care or concern for the thoughts of others or for how little time you really have. I think they will appreciate my honesty with them tomorrow about how today’s writing happened. I imagine they feel tired like this quite often when they finally get home to begin their homework and sit down to write. I imagine they will appreciate my new found understanding of that dilemma–that it isn’t so easy just to push through and do your best work once the fog of exhaustion settles in. Sure my other “homework” might look different than theirs: mine includes cooking dinner, doing dishes and putting kids to bed before I can sit down to write; theirs includes math, social studies and science. Regardless, finding focus and actually writing in the midst of other obligations, as the dust of a fray with Monday still swirls, is hard work. I have a feeling they will appreciate knowing that I respect that side of their story far more fully than before.
I’ve said this so many times, but it is worth saying again. As a writing teacher, actually doing the real work of the craft has changed the way I guide my students. I’ve had to consider that my personal stylistic preferences should not negate theirs, so I respect their craft more instead of trying to morph their work into a version of my own. Something, I’m sort of appalled to say, I did far too often–stripping their voice for what I thought sounded better. I’ve had to feel the flush of publication when I’ve put work forth into the world and await the criticism that follows, so when I read their work I try to consider my words so that they guide my students toward revision and understanding rather than simply pointing out error. But, as a writer, I’ve also spent a lot of time simply wondering about what is happening around me and in the world at large and I see how that curiosity about the world has colored and deepened my writing. I try to live that out loud for my kids as well.
I’m sure there are some that would say that I should just teach the material when I’m in the class and leave this sort of personal endeavor separate and apart. Obviously, I would have to disagree. And I like to think my students would as well.
(Day 9…tomorrow will be better…good to work through the fog though!)