I’m sitting in my back yard listening to the waterfall in our pond as dusk descends. My son and husband are both fast asleep and the bright light of the laptop and the baby monitor make everything else look dull, even though it isn’t that dark yet. I feel…a lot. You read that right. I FEEL a lot. I feel content as I listen to the water rushing down into the pond. I feel peaceful as the breeze blows across my cheeks every so often. I feel annoyed when I hear the revving of the racers down the main thoroughfare that’s quite close to our house. I feel anxious when I think about all the stuff that needs to get done in my house. I feel happy as I think about my day with my family. I feel sad as I think about my students and my job. I feel defeated as I think about the fact that I feel powerless in my job. I feel…slightly hungry as my mind wanders and I think about cheese curds. Yes. Welcome to my brain. It’s an…interesting place, to say the least.
As an elementary music teacher tied to a larger Fine Arts Department rather than an individual school I am faced with an interesting dilemma. I am both supported by my Fine Arts Department and at the same time overly managed by my Fine Arts Department. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a part of my department. I will take being supported and observed by a music teacher over getting zero support and being observed by someone who has NO idea what I’m doing ANY day. It does make certain things a little more challenging. Not impossible. Not awful. Just challenging. Challenges can be good for us, they stretch us and help us grow in ways we never would without them. Right now I’m feeling those challenges, though. Our department is GIANT, which is AMAZING. That means we have lots of quality Fine Arts teachers in schools throughout the district and so many opportunities to support each other . When anything gets large enough, though, difficulties pop up: communication sometimes gets lost in translation or falls through the cracks, steps have to be taken to support the teachers who need the MOST support which sometimes hinders the independence of those who need the least support (much like group or partner projects in class), feeling of disconnect between your school and you because you are first and foremost Fine Arts.
The theme of this digital learning or distance learning for Fine Arts is “Less is More.” We are encouraged to direct students to our district Music/Art lessons and not do anything of our own…and that’s hard for me. I miss my students. I miss creating lessons for them and interacting with them and thinking about them in the best way. All I get to do now is worry about them and think about how much I miss them. I feel like a failure as a teacher because I know I’m doing WAY less work than the other teachers are (classroom teachers), but I was told to. I feel like a failure as a mother because of the amount of time I spend on meetings and stressed about meetings or forgetting meetings and also the fact that I’m always up late at night worrying or stressed, meaning that I’m tired the next morning. I know none of these things are true. I am a good educator and I am a good mother. It still doesn’t feel great. Writing these posts helps me to ground myself and exit the tornado of negative thoughts that my anxiety stirs up. I could probably do the same thing by journaling, but when my anxiety has gotten bad enough I start to worry about my handwriting and it makes the tornado of thoughts worse and the act of journaling no longer helps, it hurts.
There’s really no point to my post other than to acknowledge my feelings as valid so that I can let them go. I’m angry about this whole situation. I’m worried about my job security going into next school year, especially if they put into practice the socially distancing plan for classrooms. Also, if we have to do this same way of teaching in the fall (group lessons), I will be heartbroken. I’m heartbroken now. I just want summer to get here so I can stop feeling guilty. That’s selfish, I know. But I’m ready.