549: School

Jennifer Johnson, a teacher at Evergreen Campus of Health Sciences & Human Services High School (HS3) in Seattle, WA, works with students in her classroom on May 20, 2014.

Jennifer Johnson, a teacher at Evergreen Campus of Health Sciences & Human Services High School (HS3) in Seattle, WA, works with students in her classroom on May 20, 2014.

Being a teacher is a very mixed blessing. Yeah, I know what everybody says about teaching, how we are not paid enough, and how the job expects you to basically perform at God level, and how everything that happens in somehow your fault (as if you can control the choices that other people make on a daily basis). Yeah, I know.

Actually I went into teaching because I like teaching, because it was steady income, and because of the time off. Considering how much time off there is in a year’s contract, the pay isn’t horrible. Few other jobs get as much time off. No, we are not paid for our time off. We are paid for approximately (depending on the school system and their instructional calendar) 190 days of work. To keep us from starving during the summer, school systems now divide our 190 days’ worth of pay into twelve payments. THAT equals a fairly mediocre income, considering all the certification and licensing requirement hoops that teachers must jump through to qualify. But for approximately 246 days of the year (190 plus the weekends) of work time, it’s still not too bad.

Still, no teacher works a 40 hour week. If you are a teacher working 40 hours a week, you suck as a teacher. Period. Efficiency be damned, there is far too much to get done in that 190 days for you to be able to do a quality job in 40 hours a week. EVERY teacher worth their salt works far more than 40 hours a week during the months that school is in session, and often works even more days during their ‘vacation’ during the summer for certification purposes – or chaperoning student groups on summer conferences.

It is no fun being the world’s scapegoat. I know intimately how the USA feels, accused of being the root cause of all evil on the planet. Apparently, in my dedicated career quest to make a difference and improve the lives of countless people, I am considered just an inept, bumbling fool, ultimately responsible for everyone’s poor choices, and certainly not a professional educator striving mightily each day to inspire and motivate other people’s children to be and do better than they were and did yesterday. Ministers, missionaries, and priests are nodding in rueful acknowledgement of that truth. Let me ask you this – how am I supposed to fix in one hour a day what the rest of the world has screwed up in the previous hours (and years) before this kid walked into my classroom? The fact that I work on it again, and again, and again, each day, is a testament to my dedication and stubbornness. Or my complete and total idiocy – I am not sure which some days.

546: A moment

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Sixty seconds.

That is not a lot of time, and entirely too long a time.

The world can rock off its axis in sixty seconds.

Life ends in less.

A moment is here for such a breath of time, and is then gone forever.

Lost and unchangeable forevermore.

I can’t save them. I can only spend them.

Let me make it my goal to waste them only deliberately.

With purpose aforethought.

After all, nobody knows how many of them we’ll get.

545: Too busy to write is too freaking busy

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I process my life by writing. When things happen, I process my thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions through the reflective and revealing lens of the written word. This is the method that works well for me. Except lately.

Lately, having moved country (Atyrau, Kazakhstan to Fitzgerald, Georgia, USA), started a new job in a sort-of new school (I taught there before I decided to leave the USA), moving into a new place, BUYING a new residence, becoming a new grandmother and obtaining a delightful new husband……I do not have time lately to scratch my watch or wind my butt.

This is a serious problem. I get the sneaking suspicion that without the catharsis of processing everything via my usual written lens that I am missing the deeper significance of things – leaving important details out, losing the flavor, the spice, the nuance – the meaning of life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

I just don’t have the time to fret about it before some new demand raises its head, insisting on being dealt with RIGHT NOW.

The urgent is overwhelming the important, ding dong dag nab it.

*sigh*