In a methods course this past Wednesday, a guest speaker challenged our class to consider all the things that were keeping us from being present, in the moment, right then and there. The list that began to form in my mind was so long and overwhelming, I started to get emotional, as I tend to do. In so many ways, graduate school has been a restorative process for me, but in many more ways it has reminded me of the fatal flaws in our system of education and the way in which we try to impart knowledge onto the students we are responsible for teaching. As I come to the end of this second semester, I’m left with more questions than answers about how to be good for kids and how to stand up for the visceral beliefs about education that I hold to be true.
More so, it took a complete stranger asking me how I’m doing for me to realize how not okay I am with so many aspects of this graduate program. In some ways, I feel like I’m having more opportunities to practice standing up to negative pressures from administration than I am practicing how to be a great teacher. I know from personal experience how valuable and needed the former is, but I’m discouraged to find the same attitudes I was fleeing from displayed in the institution to which I turned for answers and support after a trying first year of teaching.
I’m still processing through all of this, but I mainly want to share some words of encouragement and advice that my sweet boss gave to me this morning. I need to remind myself of these words again and again and again, so that I can maintain my focus on the things that matter.
Turn the page. You’ve got to turn the page. Your life is a finite book with a limited number of pages. The story of your life, believe it or not, isn’t entirely about you. There are so many people involved in your life and they will contribute in the most wonderful ways and in the most terrible ways to the story of who you are. All kinds of bad, negative, gross things are swirling around us in the world, and some of those things are going to make an appearance in your story. Figure out which ones don’t matter, put them on one page, and then turn the page. You’ve got to see the rest of the story and focus on the details that are meaningful, or you won’t make it to the end of the book.
Here’s to turning the page and focusing on the details that actually matter.