You know what I miss about being a classroom teacher? The relationships. Having my own class of students who have parents and siblings and teachers from last year...all those connections.
I love my work, and the time I spend in classrooms is some of my favourite time. Such a diverse bunch of children, and even though I am only with them for a short amount of time, I make connections that mean something to me. Being in one school regularly, I see kids around the school and at different times in the school setting. Being in a somewhat small community, I see the kids from school at the soccer fields or in the shopping centre, and they greet me by my teacher name which fills me with joy.
"Ms Nash! Hi!"
This school also offers me professional relationships that I so desire. Being a "sole trader" according to the Australian Business Register feels somewhat like being a "permanent resident alien" felt when living in the US with my American husband and children. We are all now Australian and American, and that feeling of connectedness means something. Being a part of this school means something. Being with these classes, even for the pockets of time that I have, means a lot.
This feeling of connectedness is something that I think about a lot as I navigate our world, one often lived on screens and social media. As a business owner, I understand I need to have a presence online. I mean, that's what I'm told. But I don't enjoy it. I don't like it. Time is so precious, I want to spend it with people in real life. I say this, but I also love seeing what folks from my lives of the past are up to on FB. At the same time, I resent the time I spend checking in on this, knowing how it can balloon to epic proportions so easily. All of a sudden, my children are starving, there's not a clean dish in the house, and the clock has just chimed midnight. What a slippery slope it is, and how I resent the time it poaches from my real life.
I talk to kids about finding stories in the things in their lives that matter to them, and they want to write about video games. I've seen too many retells of games or movies, too many kids not able to engage in a task that won't give immediate feedback. My conferencing skills are honed, but unless my feedback is immediate and comes with bells and whistles, maybe flashing lights, it just doesn't seem to cut it.
Today, a wonderful classroom teacher (whose class I hijacked for an hour), spoke about the kids who just won't write. She's a great teacher. She is a teacher who I admire. But this lack of connection is hard, and these kids who don't even know what that means need it more than anyone. But I fear they don't even know what it is. Maybe this is nothing to do with lives lived in front of screens...
I see the irony in writing this to an audience who are online, who are mainly in a place a long, long way from me. An audience whose response I seek, yet can't enable because of my lack of time and know-how in allowing comments (though I'm working on it!). Maybe this is a call to develop a community like this closer to home, with folks who I can see in the flesh. Or maybe it's a call to go against all my gut feelings and open myself and my mindset to the possibilities of this age.
Sigh. It sounds exhausting.