"Can I have a break?" she said. I was in the middle of putting out myriad fires and patting backs all within seconds of each other. I motioned her to follow me, wondering how much longer I could keep all the plates spinning, hers being one of them. As I jotted "break" on a post-it for her to take to the office, she rather insightfully stated, "I understand teaching is hard work." I'd often described her as an emotional being. She feels things to the extreme. Could she feel the desperation behind my smiling exterior? Could she sense how hard I was working to hold my world together?
Teaching is indeed hard work. If I were to list all the reasons, they would be varied. Yet for me, the one that rises to the top is the one I faced on a daily basis during this 25th year of my career.
My vision did not equal my reality.
Vision is a powerful tool in a teacher's hand. It inspires. It motivates. It provides direction and purpose. And it results in disappointment when it's obvious from even the first few days that the vision and reality cannot coexist.
Reflection demanded change, and though I might have wished it so, it wasn't coming from the children. It was me. It was my expectation. It was the grand picture in my head of what I needed to accomplish by May 30th.
My cousin Kevin offered wise and life-saving perspective.
The arrow will be launched straight and true. The target has moved and you many not achieve all that you set out to achieve, but there is a river of life pouring forth from you and it touches everyone with whom you come into contact.
Looking back on year 25, I admittedly mourn the relocation of my target. It was hard to accept, not just once, but repeatedly throughout the year as new obstacles arose and the target moved yet again. I miss the sense of satisfaction that comes from reaching the intended goal.
Kevin was right though.
I launched my arrow. It was straight. It was true. I'm striving to believe that it made contact, made a lasting impression. In faith, I walk away from year 25 knowing that I hit my target.