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  • Writer's picturecatherine@allaboutwriters

Sorry, what time is it?

It’s almost the end of winter here in Canberra, and a few weeks until the end of term three in the school year. I’m used to the fact that my calendar is off with the majority of the SOL community, but I’m realising that my clock is out here in many ways, too.

I’ve just started with a new class – in week seven of term three. Having consulted for the past few years, I was longing to get back into a classroom regularly – or rather, the same classroom regularly. As I was beginning to think about my career path for next year, the opportunity came up to take a class two days a week and I couldn’t contain my delight. What an unexpected joy to come at this stage of the year.

Did I mention we are in week seven of term three? These wonderful kids have a new teacher with her new ways of doing things, her new routines and expectations. The teacher they’ve had all year is amazing, and they love her, but they are finding space for me too, as is she with such grace and welcome. In many ways, it feels like the start of the year. But it’s not.

Three weeks until we have a two-week spring break. Just as I’m ramping things up, the rest of my world is ramping down. My own kids are feeling the pinch of the end of term three, heading into the last week of soccer for the season and coming out of school so tired every day. This time of year is always tough, with summer break still months away but last summer beyond recall. I’m aware of this at home, as a parent, and make an effort to just bring us all together with as little stress and activity outside school as possible. It’s a time for nesting and just keeping close and warm. Yet, at school I am just warming up…having expectations for the kids in my care to do the same. There’s such insight for teaching that comes from parenting. To me, it feels like the start of the year...but it’s not.

My days in school are Wednesday to Friday, so I find myself walking into school mid-week and asking everyone about their weekends when they’re just heading into hump day. To them, the weekend seems a lifetime ago. Some weeks I’ve been working from home Monday and Tuesday, other weeks I’m in other schools. Still feels like Monday to me on a Wednesday when I go to school. The kids are full of stories, the teachers knowing they’re already down two days in an always busy week. It feels like the start of the week to me, but it’s not.

At home, we’ve had months of back and forth with landscapers, architects, pool builders….working to forge a path to some kind of house and/or garden renovation. We’ve had a lot of back and forth, many a rich discussion about plans and timelines and priorities (and, of course, budget), to finally arrive this week at the starting line. Only our gathering at this starting line is probably too late in the year for anything to happen before next year. So in this case, we are ready for the new year but are still months away from it.

For now, I'll work on the present and rejoice in all that is good right now. I love the predictable routine that has come back with regular class time. I relish the mental energy I can put into teaching rather than managing schedules. In a couple of weeks, our clocks will spring forward an hour and the weather will hopefully start to warm. By then, this new routine will be normal and I’ll hopefully be ready for the wonderful break that summer brings. And hopefully, it will feel like the start of the new year…and I’ll be in step with everyone else heading into it.

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