Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making it a Priority

Since last Thursday, I have been doing teacher inservice, professional development, and planning for this upcoming year. Lanier is undergoing some major changes this year as we move into four "houses" (smaller teams of teachers that plan together and teach the same students). Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday have been filled with back-to-back meetings, lectures, professional development sessions, and even a "webinar." (A seminar on the internet. Super exciting.) My mom is here taking care of Lydia during the day so that Robin can continue working until Lydia starts daycare on Monday.

These work days have been really difficult for several reasons. House planning involved discussing, negotiating, what have you with nearly 20 teachers. Some are talkers, some want discussions to last 2 minutes. My role as house leader hasn't been very clear, so it was hard for me to figure out how to facilitate things. The professional development was not received well, so even though there were elements of it that I agreed with, it was all-in-all a negative experience. On Tuesday, I along with four other teachers spent 2 hours in the car in stop-and-go traffic to attend a convocation. And today I had to watch a power point while listening to presenters talk via the internet. All of this has involved sitting in student desks or on bleachers with the exception of one hour spent in an office chair. I physically hurt, and my mind is fried. This is all compounded by the fact that I had to move classrooms this year and have been given exactly 1 hour in my classroom to unpack, set up, and get organized and that only happened because a session finished early. In past years, I've gone in during the days leading up to our work days and meetings, but this year I took Lydia so that Robin could work.

While I am happy to report that pumping is going well, and I have only had to use about 10 ozs. of my freezer stash to get Lydia going on the first day I was gone, it has been very difficult to work out pumping amidst the three-hour long meetings. We are generally only given 5-10 minute breaks which hardly gives me time to set up and pump, and forget about frivolous things like using the restroom and getting a drink of water. This problem is made worse by the fact that we set punctuality as a team norm in my house, so when I show up late for a session or step out for 10-15 minutes, I feel uncomfortable, especially as house leader that went off on my team about holding each other accountable. It all becomes more tricky when things run late or, at the end of a meeting, people want to talk for "a few minutes," which inevitably turns into 20 or 30, and I need to pump and get home to spend a few hours with Lydia before she goes to bed. I'm just really tired.

Let me say that the community of teachers at Lanier, especially in my English department, have been incredibly supportive and interested in Lydia. Co-workers constantly ask how she is doing and patiently look as I show picture after picture. I'm sure they have no idea how good this interest makes me feel and how much easier it has made it for me to come back to work. (Lanier teachers and staff who may be reading: Thank you!) All of this interest and support still hasn't been able to calm my fears about combining teaching and motherhood. Last night, I had a dream that I had become a "bad teacher" because I had to leave school at 4:30. Co-workers were talking about me, and my classroom was a disaster. (I'm sure the dreams that I have had prior to every other school year where I get so angry I start crying and my students all laugh at me will hit later this week.) On Monday, when a teacher said, "I'm so glad to hear you're still nursing. Make that a priority," I almost started crying, because I'm really not sure how I will prioritize time between working at a very demanding school and being a good, attentive, present mother.

Let's just say it's been a hard week.

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