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Yesterday was a terrible, terrible day. A tragic event, which in an attempt to maintain some semblance of privacy for the family, I shall not name now. At some point I might, but not now.

But–I have a question:

One thing that is forgotten about many discussions of the teaching profession is at first, and fundamentally, we are humans. We are mortal. We hurt and heal one another. In all of our classes, courses, professional development, assessment and data design, how many more things can we layer on top, crushing this human spirit?

How do you handle the loss of a child, a student?

I need to know.

ikigai

Have you seen my ikigai? Because it is awesome…

Watched this documentary the other evening with husband, How To Live Forever by Mark Wexler. As the Wired article states, “The majority of the film is dedicated to interviews with oddball characters like Martin, many of them centenarians with astounding vigor…”

That’s a really good word: vigor.

Rhymes with “rigor.”

Made me think –anemia affected both my personal physical and professional health.

I had lost my “ikigai,” the Okinawan philosophy of purpose for life, getting out of bed, what keeps one going. Well, to be fair, this has happened before to me. I lose my ikigai from time to time. It’s not really lost, just misplaced. It goes wandering off on its own mental adventures, and unfortunately leaves me with no gas and takes the credit card.

So, how is Stella going to get her groove back, “Stella” being the teaching profession and “groove” being helping our students maintain both academic rigor that is meaningful, purposeful, and engaging? Oh, that word again–engaging.

By going back to the basics: what keeps me engaged?

  • Reading–anything, everything, all the time.
  • Great blogs: The Line, Education Rethink, etc.
  • Novels, great, big, small, tall: currently deep in the Game of Thrones series, and yes, not ashamed to admit I was inspired by the HBO series. Yes, the books are better. Big victory this year: recently student told me he liked the Hunger Games novel better than the movie. (Let that sink in a bit. That’s right. Enjoy.)
  • Writing. I have been doing more writing for my own joy than in many previous years, writing for myself, writing stupid, trashy fanfiction pulp, and loving every minute.
  • Playing games, watching Jon Stewart with my husband, and making sure my boys are okay.
  • Trying to take care of myself – I am just chalking this year mostly up to my body rebelling, and it’s time to put this rebellion down. Where are your rebel friends now? Nothing serious, but health stuff that will be taken care of as soon as school is out…
…speaking of which:
We have a new principal. I have met her once. She seems like the leadership our school desperately needs. We are going toward common core. We are all about the assessments, more assessments, and data data data. All of these disturbing trends feel overwhelming and inevitable. Someone, somewhere, needs to be bloody accountable. All righty then, so be it. Have it your way.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep my ikigai on a short leash, and feed it treats of great conversations with students, and doing what I do best – like them. Every morning when I do get up, I do think about them, and don’t want to cheat them. The prowling world is ready to pounce, and it’s my task to help them find their meaning and purpose. It’s not too late–how can I say this? Well, yesterday my very first class of seventh grade students graduated from high school. I wanted to go to the ceremony but could not because of my own son’s obligations. But man-oh-man, am I ever proud of them.
So very proud.

Blog dusting…

Smell that? That scent of Lemon Pledge and Ajax in the air? That is the smell of polishing rags, dusting-off, and possessions being cared for, by hand, with time. This morning driving in I thought of a post in my mind, but can’t complete it without my own computer at home and technological gizmos (it’ll make more sense when I post it). I had this overwhelming sense of need to…organize? Clean? Write?!? And feel ready to do so. Wouldn’t you know it? I was met with a very nice surprise in my e-mail this morning, from a fellow blogger, wanting to do the same, with support, and a partnership of encouragment.

It’s always better to do the heavy lifting with help–I’m there! Thank you, and thank you, too, universe!