The Human in Here

Good Morning Everyone!

Today begins week #3 of the school year for us.  The crisp new portfolios are personalized and showing early signs of wear.  Books on the shelves breathe a little easier as kids have claimed their first reads.  And a new group of teens lounges on carpets, in chairs, draped across the floor reading.

This is the first year of teaching for me that one of the humans I live with is now the same age as the humans I teach.  My son has reached 9th grade (although not at the same school) and as I look at the faces in my class this year, I can't help but see him there.  My daughters, in 7th and 8th grade, are not far behind.

This also means I can't help but see the lives at home all my students are leading as well.  I see the sports practice, time with friends, amount of food consumed on what seems like an hourly basis.  I see the hunts for lost cleats, the struggles with homework, the draw of the phone.

And I also see all those parents.  All the hours spent in the car, coordinating schedules to make sure each kid gets to and from practices, schedule pick ups, friends. I see the mountain of classroom rules and expectations to be signed, grades to be checked online (x 3 kids x 7 classes for each).  I see the demands to volunteer, to donate, to buy t-shirts, supplies, and snacks.

I remember, in a fuzzy, hazy way, those early years of full-on motherhood, when I had got two toddlers and a baby out to daycare at 6:30 AM and stumbled back to get them at 4:30, having stolen a guilty hour to run before picking them up at daycare.  I remember the tired as I tucked them into bed at 7pm, fresh from a bath and stories, only to return to my kitchen table to respond to assignments and make sure I was ready to do it all again the next day.

Now I sneak in reading in the car as I wait to pick up from soccer or get up at 5am to steal an hour of quiet writing before the kids are up.  The evenings find us all a hive of busy, paths crossing, but not all in sync.

As a teacher-mom I can't help but be highly aware of the overwhelming drive to push, achieve, go nonstop that our lives have become. I have to wonder about the why.  In our quest to go, do, be more and more and more, where is the human tucked inside?  Where is the human child who wants to breathe, explore and contemplate something deeply?  Where is the human adult who wants to savor the beauty of sharing a story, discovering a writer buried deep under the pressures of tests and accountability, celebrating the small moments of beauty that happen everyday?

She's here.  She's tired, but she is here.  This school year, I'm making time to stop looking at Twitter as some kind of mirror of what I need to be doing.  I'm stopping the frantic feeling of "we're behind!" that can often creep into teaching.  I'm stopping fighting the drive of standardization, one-size-fits all, steamroller teaching.

And in that stopping, I'm choosing to pour my time into savoring the unique humanity in each classroom--both of the humans who are learning, and the human who is teaching.  We're all enough, just as we are. When our job focuses on celebrating our differences, uncovering our talents, our potential, letting our strengths fly free, breathing in full color, everyone benefits, grows and thrives. Picking up the stamp of standardization and forcing it on everyone will never achieve our best.  Never.  So this year, I focus on what I want more of:  humanity:  imperfect, interesting, growing, beautiful people.

So, here's to all the humans out there, slowing down, being real, and deeply connecting to what really matters this school year.  You, the real you, the one underneath that mountain of expectations, are enough.  Let yourself and all those beautiful humans in your classes shine bright in their own ways.

from Alexander Den Heijer on Twitter


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