Unfocused Focus

Originally posted on Miss P’s Ponderings on May 28, 2012

     Okay, I know today’s title is an oxymoron, but it’s the best title I could come up with for the thoughts that have gone through my head concerning today’s writing.  First, for those of you who take the time to read my ponderings, “thank you” and please forgive me for not being as consistent as I had been previously.  I figured that the last couple weeks of school would find me not writing as much, but I hope to write a bit this week…and start back with more consistency next week.

     So, what is this unfocused focus of which I write?  I’m glad you asked.  It’s actually twofold…my goal for the weekend and the thoughts in my head.

     I’ll begin with the goal of my weekend, which was to complete my “end-of-year books” and to clean/organize a large percentage of my classroom, so the final “half-day” for teachers on Friday would actually be a half-day for me too.  So, on Saturday, after eating breakfast with my sister and nephew at 7:00a.m. at Bob Evan’s, I ventured out to room 302.  The AC is off on the weekend, and the temps were in the 90s, but it didn’t get too terribly humid in my classroom.  For this I was thankful.  When I left at 3:30, I was glad to have my 25 end-of-year books finished as well as entering grades and posting them.  Woohoo!  Yes, we’ll still have class tomorrow, but I don’t believe my students’ focus will be of the degree worth taking an assessment score.  Along the way I laminated some things, packed away some books, organized field trip assignments, worked on the textbook inventory, and…whatever else happened into my path.  You see, I was unfocused but my focus for the day was accomplished.

     As I worked on my books, I thought back over the year.  I saw some writing samples which really went well and I thought, “I need to make sure I include that in my lessons again next year.”  Alas, I also was reminded of a few things that didn’t go as well, so I made a mental note to delete the activity from next year’s instruction.  Finally, there were those lesson, units, activities which I thought, “That went really well, but I think thus-and-such would make it better.”  So, as I was focused on my tasks, I also reflected on the journey and looked ahead to the adventure awaiting in 2012-2013.

     Today, I had a new goal.  Today’s goal was clean, organize, reflect, and repeat.  Again, I began with breakfast, after all it is the most important meal of the day.  Today, I joined my parents rather than my sister, and I was in 302 by 9:00 a.m. without a Polar Pop!  (For those who know me, you know that this was quite a feat!)  As I meandered through the classroom…my thoughts spent time pondering 16 years in third grade.  I took down my class photographs (Umm, I’m missing my first two years?  That did not make me a happy teacher.  I guess I need to find someone with a yearbook to scan.)  As I looked at the children who have passed through my doorway (whether it was 606, 604, or 302), I was flooded with lots of thoughts and feelings…

     First, from my first year, I thought of the boy who caused me to spend ample time with Wes (our school counselor) and Cathy (who taught next door).  That same boy…returned to visit me a few years ago before going into the military and told me that I had been his favorite teacher.  (Really??  I was utterly amazed!)  I also thought of the girl who came to school often without her hair brushed, so I bought her a “purple hairbrush”.  She knew she could take it up to the nurse on any day her dad forgot to brush her hair.  I’ve run into her a few times around town, and the purple hairbrush always comes into the conversation.  You just never know what’s going to be the “thing” they remember.

     Then, a few years later, I saw the grandson of two of the couples who attend church with me.  I thought back to Parent Night that year and how the mom had come up and given me a hug telling me that I had been an answer to the prayers she had lifted all summer.  (Really?  That’s pretty cool and quite encouraging to hear.)

     Next, I saw Daniel..a lively blond boy who had enough energy for the world.  Tears came to my eyes as I remembered that he was my first experience with a former student passing away.  My heart still hurts when I remember his accident and later death.  He stays a third grader in my memory though he was older when his life ended.

   Then, I saw the class I had, who are now ending their freshman year, and the soccer team which were all placed in my classroom together.  That prompted me to think of a conversation I shared with two previous students who attend my church.  I was taking them home from VBS two years ago after we had finished serving for the day.  As we drove, the sister (who was in my class two years later) shared how she had gotten out her “end-of-year” book and went through it.  She told me she started crying as she remembered how much she loved being in my class.  Her brother said, “Yeah, but we thought you were pretty uptight.” (Really?  I reminded him that with a ball team all in one room, I pretty much had to be if we were going to accomplish anything.)

     Then, I saw the class who are now 8th graders, and I remembered how skilled my student teacher was that year.  What a blessing she was to our class!  As I looked through those students, I saw the little girl who would sometimes get so anxiety-filled that she couldn’t move forward.  What’s a public school teacher to do?  Well, I taught her when things get to us, we need to learn to shake them off.  There were plenty of times when she and I would simultaneously start shaking uncontrollably at the end of our chats until one or both of us started laughing.  All the while I shook, I would say a prayer for her heart to calm and her peace to restore.

          I could write and write and write, as you can see, but I need to jump to this year.  I think of the two chatty boys in my language class who gave me a half-dozen hugs before leaving my room on Friday.  I see the five students who have moved away during the course of the year…one moved just last weekend.  I think of the 25 lively students who are eager for the “give-away” to begin, excited for the field trip on Wednesday, and anxious about what fourth grade will be like.  I think of how when I was cleaning and organizing…I was also getting excited for what we could do “next year”.  I chuckle at myself for laminating orange and purple paper for next year’s AR airplanes.  I laugh when I see the Really Good Stuff order I placed for Mary and me to use next year.  I’m reminded…yes, this is definitely my calling, or I wouldn’t find joy in cleaning and organizing…I wouldn’t find peace in reflecting over the lives He’s placed in my room.

      Yes, I will continue to teach regardless of whether I agree with the decisions the politicians make, for I am doing what I love and loving what I do.  Well, I may not love all of it (I mean, who really loves grading papers?), but I love the ones He puts in my classroom.  Yes, today, I reflected over the 320+ students who have been called “Miss P’s class”, and I have been reminded of the blessings of the journey.

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