In a past life (aka before children) I was an elementary school teacher. I remember teaching 4th grade with my good friend. She was always so organized. She made lists and then methodically checked the things of her list (and she didn’t just check them off…she crossed each item off with a big, fat, thick marker-ah the satisfaction!). I spent two years taking it all in, trying to match her level of organization, staying at work for hours after students had gone home. And when I was “on my game” I felt exhilarated and fulfilled. Or at least I thought I did.
Tonight I’m starting to realize that maybe it was just Good Girl who felt fulfilled (“give me my gold star please!”). Because when I look back to those times of teaching 4th grade, my memories that seem FULL and satisfying are the times where I flew by the seat of my pants to teach a lesson. I’ll never forget standing on my chair orchestrating my 30 somewhat willing 4th graders to enact the different levels of the rain forest. Or when sweet, teddy bear of a 4th grader Big H, cried his sweet little eyes out at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows. Or laughing with the students about the BFG’s very loud belches. Or the newspaper my students started, almost all on their own, with just a little help from me (and our lovely librarian.) I feel nothing about my millions of well-written and steadily marked off to-do lists. I don’t remember a single one of them!
So, now I’m back at it. Lesson-planning. This fall, Big C is a Kindergartener. And what that means is I’m a teacher again. But Good Girl isn’t in charge. So what does that look like? At this point, it feels pretty murky. I’m trying to “do what I want” but a lot of “shoulds” keep creeping back in. Mostly in terms of the planning. Good Girl really wants me to have impeccable plans, written in very neat Zaner-Bloser handwriting (yes, I actually took a handwriting course in college). Good Girl wants lists, folders, themes, systems and organization. But you know what? I’m pretty sure that when the REAL me teaches I’m not at all organized. But rather passionate, excited, and in the flow. I’m starting to see that I love to immerse myself in information, read a lot, get lots of ideas and then pull from that reservoir in the moment. Not when my lesson plan book says I should. It’s not pretty. It’s not thorough. It’s not systematic and linear.
What it is is fun. And connected. And joyful.
I always struggled as a teacher. I hated tests, standards, data-collection and analysis. I always believed that teaching was an art, not a science. Good Girl wanted to be the best of the best so she tried be a scientist. Tonight, it’s all coming together. No wonder I was always so frustrated in teaching. My strengths do not lie in organization or themes. My strengths are things that Good Girl never even thought were strengths. Being in the moment. Working with a child’s spirit (and mine for that matter). Doing what flows (and therefore is well-received). Having a lot of ideas in my head and pulling from that in a moment’s notice. No wonder I chose to homeschool.
And so here I am again…creating a prison with my rules. If I just let go, the bars would fall away, and some magical kindergarten homeschool could flow forth in our little peculiar way. Like a beautiful but very messy painting.
Here’s to letting go and finding the flow for the start of our homeschool week!