Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's Too Much, I'll Make Coffee!


Today I'm thinking about schedules, breathing, panic, anxiety, cooking, running, getting the kids where they need to be and helping them with homework. I'm also thinking about hair cutting and styling. It's a busy day.

I had a meeting that ran a bit late this afternoon, getting me home later than usual. No big deal, but the meeting itself had me a little tense for reasons that aren't even a little important and being late getting home all I could think about was that I needed to make dinner, that my wife was going to get her hair cut and colored, and that I wanted to do this writing and get out for a run.

I've run every day so far this year and written every day since October 31 of last year, so I have some interest in keeping those streaks alive. Plus, the writing and running make me feel good. Driving home I was feeling something other than good. I was tense and running the numbers, trying to find time to fit it all in.

At home, my wife reminded me that my youngest has dance class and that while she was getting picked up by friends, she would need to be picked up afterward. Standing in the kitchen hearing this, I could actually feel my head turning (not quite spinning) in circles like a dog about to lie down and sleep. I was thinking that was what I needed. A nap. Or maybe a drink. Or maybe I should get some sort of snack and just sit on the couch. It was all too much!

I'm laughing as I type those lines because it's two and a half hours later. I didn't lie on the couch, drink, or nap. Instead, I kissed my wife goodbye, helped my daughters with their homework, sent one off to dance class, made a dinner, and cleaned the kitchen. The dinner is ready to eat whenever everyone gets home. The cooking dishes are clean. My one daughter is typing her writing assignment for school while I type this. In an hour we will go together to pick up her sister from dance and when we get home, we will all eat dinner and marvel at my wife's hair.

I'll have written my words by then, posted them to the blog, and linked to them on social media. After dinner, we will clean up and I will take myself out for a run.

My point in this very long-winded story is to remind myself again that planning and worrying aren't very productive. A little planning is fine, maybe a list of what has to get done, but the kind of figuring I was doing on the drive home is a waste of energy. Instead, I could have been singing to the music, listening to NPR, or just admiring the scenery. But I was too busy psyching myself out of the moment. I was too busy thinking about things that didn't need to be thought about.

And that meeting I was at... Well, it was all about teaching and something called the Common Core Standards. This is a document designed to insure that teachers do the job that business people and politicians think needs to be done. I've psyched myself out about it too. I take it as insulting, annoying, and generally in the way of good teaching. But today, at the meeting, I was able to relax a little and stop worrying. Because of that I saw that the Common Core Standards aren't much to think about, not for someone who is a reflective teacher.

I don't have to worry about the Common Core because I have that down already. The business folks have merely codified the stuff that teachers have been doing since the 19th century. My classroom doesn't have to change markedly to satisfy the needs of those who are pushing the Common Core. First, it's not like they are going to stop by and get to know my teaching that much anyway. And second (much more important) what I'm doing is already aligned with their goals. Basically, kids need to be able to read and write well. The Common Core says that they need to be prepared for work and college in the 21st century. Okay, that's pretty much what most of us teachers have been working on (give or take a century).

It's too much, I'll make coffee! I think that was on an episode of Friends. I haven't made any coffee yet. Mostly because I want to go for a run later but also because it turns out that there's not all that much to be concerned over. Sometimes, to figure that sort of thing out, all I need to do is breathe. That and to sit at the computer for a moment and write on.