I want to take occasional opportunities over this school year to document some of the thoughts and feelings that are emerging as a back-to-work mom. There’s no telling just what I’ll cover here or what will come up.
In case you missed it, I’ve returned to full-time teaching this school year under special and unique circumstances. I decided to start an informal little series about this return after a decade-long absence in the full-time work force. Some of what I’m sharing is serious and spiritual. Some of what I’m sharing is practical or fun.
In the spirit of December and Christmas, I’d like to make the theme of this month’s post, “All is Calm; All is Bright.”
For a teacher, December is kind of the big push to the finish line in terms of grading essays and finalizing end of course details, student grades, helping to push along your procrastinators, and making your lists and checking them twice.
Thankfully, a great majority of my students will find that they finished ENGL 1101 on the nice list.
This is my fifth installment of this little series and it is also the installment that falls at the semester break. It’s a perfect time to contemplate the semester as a whole, take into account the biggest obstacles I’ve faced in returning to work, and reflect on all the good that has come of this endeavor.
1. My role as CEO of our kids’ homeschool has become more purposeful.
| recent trip to EdVenture Museum |
Prior to rejoining the work force, I felt like the kids and I had all of the time in the world to go and do and see and enjoy things like exhibits, museums, galleries, historical sites, and library, park, and field trip excursions.
These are an integral part of our homeschooling philosophy. Before it felt like I had an endless supply of days, weeks, and months to schedule these outings. Now, I have had to be VERY selective and VERY purposeful in making sure we get to our fun and engaging escapades. All things considered, I think this has been a good tweak to our rhythm.
2. More than ever before, HOME has become my HAVEN.
| calm and quiet; just the way I like it |
Again, prior to rejoining the workforce, I was home a lot. A lot. Similar to the scheduling and planning of homeschool extras, things like housework or projects were on a vacuous and idle timeline. Many days felt like Groundhog Day; I could do something today, or tomorrow, or next week and it really wouldn’t matter.
There was no sense of urgency for most things because I was home all the time. Now, due to work and our homeschool co-op, I’m gone for a majority of the day M-F and so I have had to become more strategic about making a good use of my time. When I *am* home, I relish the time so much more. It feels good to be able to feel the warmth, safety, relaxation, and reprieve of home because I no longer take for granted the luxury of being there so much.
3. Student interactions have been the greatest and most rewarding professional payoff.
| holed up in our upstairs guest room to finish grading Argument essays |
It’s strange, but teaching in the college classroom this time has been so different for me. I know that part of it is that the overall mission of the school and student demographic is different than before. During my UTC teaching, it was a very traditional four-year university experience; both in student demographics and in faculty expectations.
At EGSC, the mission of the school is “open access” to all students regardless of academic background or preparation. Because of this, our students are awesome, excited to learn, and most are grateful to be in college. This motivation and enthusiasm (in most of them) in turn motivates and inspires me to teach them concepts in a way that is practical and meaningful.
I’ve enjoyed immensely tailoring our classroom reading and writing assignment to meet their needs. I’ve enjoyed those “lightbulb” moments I have seen come on in so many of my students. I have treasured the responsibility, self-confidence, determination, and self-reliance I have witnessed as an English instructor.
4. Keeping systems of planning and organization in place has been a life saver.
Each week, I have many little quirky systems in place that ensure that everything I need to get done at home, with the kids, with work, with homeschool, with Ryan, and with our overall life stays on track.
From meal planning, quiet time, and alone time, to binders, bins, baskets, routines, and rituals, ALL of it has helped to make this semester largely successful for all of us. I’m continuing to learn that God designed me to enjoy order and that’s not a negative or derogatory personality downfall; it’s who I am and He made me.
I won’t say that there haven’t been days that I’ve been exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally because there have been several of those days. But I WILL say that God is faithful, Ryan is awesome, Thomas, Mae, & Kate inspire me, and my job is fantastic.