Friday, March 12, 2010

Relearning a craft...

"The moment we think we've learned a craft, it's the time to start all over again." I read this quote in a book I recently read and enjoyed, Pastries by Bharti Kirchner. In this book, baker and owner of a pastry shop, has several challenges, but most seriously she has lost the ability to bake.
This year as I returned to the classroom this idea of having to relearn a craft has seemed very true.  Now the quote was referring to baking but I can relate because despite my years of experience after an absence of four (actually five being full time) years from the the day to day life of a classroom teacher, it's been a challenge.
As a consultant there was so much I missed about classroom teaching, first the kids, then the  staffroom-the camaraderie of the staffroom, the fun of putting units together, the challenge of solving the puzzle of how best to help one's students, the fun of putting together a classroom.  Now that I am back, I, of course, remember all the challenges that are not always easy, and how much work it is to do it all.  I honestly find it strange that I am sure the longer I have taught the more I worked.
I began my career in Quebec in Special Education.  I had challenging classes but they were small and I had lots of prep time (far more than I have ever had in B.C.) so that I didn't really have to bring much work home.  In my first seven years of teaching I completed a special education diploma and a Master's degree while working full time.
This year it strikes me I am working longer and harder than ever.  It's March break and I am actually working on report cards, something I don't remember doing before during a break!  I am also trying to catch up on all sorts of things I don't seem to have time nor energy for in the regular school year.
Am I totally inefficient or obsessed?  Someone told me about a teacher who taught all day and then volunteered at the Olympics.  Not sure how she managed that one.
I read an essay at least twenty years ago that time would be the new luxury, despite labour saving devices because more is expected of us because of these.   Several years ago I felt overwhelmed because I had to learn to use a digital camera, a new computer, and a palm pilot all at the same time.  At this point I still have the same camera, stopped using the palm pilot, and still have the same computer.  I am in danger of becoming a Luddite.
And then there are blogs that are also rather time consuming to produce which is probably why this one hasn't been being written as much lately.
Now back to the main idea which was about starting over to learn a craft, I personally don't think you can totally start over though it sure may feel life that, but I do think it is good for the soul, as humbling as it might be.  When you finish yoga you are supposed to congratulate yourself for coming to class, and I have to congratulate myself for going back to the classroom no matter how inefficient and overworked I may feel.  I also have to congratulate myself for leaving the classroom as well as being a consultant had its own share of challenges.
So enough rambling, back to those report cards, all the things I said I was doing this week, and venturing out into the rain in this last day of holiday.

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