Yes, it has been a long time, but this fall I’ve been too busy to even think about blogging. However, since I’m suffering from a herniated disk and I’ve decided to spend most of the weekend on the couch, now is a good to write.
First, the herniated disk: I’ve dealt with pain before – years of knee pain, recovering from heart surgery, other back woes, but they have all paled in comparison to the pain of this. It has gotten so bad that my chiropractor is sending me to a pain specialist. I can’t stand outside my classroom door for the full five minutes between classes. I can’t walk down the hall to the main office. I can’t stand up and teach my class unless I put one leg up on a chair. Even then I don’t last very long and I have to sit down. At the end of the day I get home and doze on my living room couch until I’ve recovered enough to move to the family room couch and watch TV.
Fortunately, I’ve been getting lots of help both at school and home – people pick up my mail or walk my class if they need to go to another part of the building. Scotty has been dealing with a lot of dinners and shopping. John doesn’t complain when I ask him to bring me my ice pack or tote and fetch other things. Finally, today I have seemed to turn a corner and the pain is minimal.
The best part of my fall was coaching the JV field hockey team at West Potomac. When I was in high school there was nothing better than being out on the field, playing hockey on a beautiful fall afternoon. Things haven’t changed. But this season it wasn’t just my love for running up and down the field and smacking the ball that made it so great; it was dealing with the girls on my team. It was a joy to work with friendly, enthusiastic kids who were always happy to see me, really liked each other, and wanted to work hard and get better. It was gratifying to see them improving in ways both on and off the field. I even loved that my most timid freshman at the beginning of the year was talking out of turn by the end.
After a day of working with my emotionally disturbed (ED) students who are frustrating to work with since they tend to be angry and uninspired students who don’t want to listen or focus on their work, my players would always rejuvenate me. My best moments were in the middle of a half time huddle asking the players to comment on what they were doing well and then talking about what we needed to improve for the second half. I’d come out of the center of 22 players who were all eager to share and encourage each other feeling like that huddle was the place I was absolutely meant to be.
Such a contrast to my days at school! Sure I’ll sometimes have a few minutes when a peace will settle over the classroom - when everyone is focused and really tuned into what I’m saying and even appear to enjoy it. And then something will blow. One student will look at other – words will be exchanged and then . . . Sometimes with a quick word I can contain the disruption and we’ll continue on. Other times, I’ll need to chat with someone in the hallway or send someone out of class. On a good day I can anticipate things and stop them before they really get started. On a bad day, well, I’m writing referrals and contacting parents. As I say to the students, “I don’t get you into trouble; I just report your behavior.”
Most days I’ll have one or two small things which will make me feel like I’m making progress and those thoughts will carry me through the rough spots. But occasionally I have my “suck it up and get through it days,” when I’m wondering why I’m working with these kids. Those are the days I wish that it was still field hockey season so I could go out to the field, hit some balls, chat with the girls, and feel rejuvenated.