The past few weeks–and my last couple of blog posts–have been pretty heavy. However, today we are celebrating. It is a beautifully sunny morning and I am camped out on the front room chaise with jams playing in the background, my mom’s afghan keeping my feet warm, and Bleu keeping me company.
I’m grateful that I ran errands yesterday and only have to head outside to walk the dogs since we are in the middle of a deep freeze.
And I am super excited because I just made it through the most intense semester of my teaching career!!!!! Yes!
160 final Semester grades plus 115 Civics Service Learning grades and 45 Constitution Exam grades are done and submitted!
An exhausting semester, that required the most growth, resilience, adaptation, and patience of my life! But it was also the most gratifying in a completely different way than I have ever experienced before. If I was a mountain climber, this was probably my Mt. Everest.
In July 2017, I was also celebrating a milestone career achievement, which I wrote about in It’s a Wrap, where I was grateful to have graduated my first group of IB students as an IB Coordinator.
I need to celebrate a pretty monumental career achievement. It’s not as if I finished my Masters Essay (which I did 7 or 8 years ago) or a book (which I want to accomplish someday). It’s not that I simply finished teaching a school year (I’ve done that a few too many times for it to feel like it is a big deal anymore) or my Peace Corps service (which was a big deal, but different because, frankly, I wasn’t necessarily ready to finish my Peace Corps service and move on). This milestone doesn’t appear to be that big of deal on the surface because it coincides with the end of just another school year. However, it is a big deal.
While my Peace Corps Volunteer service on Antigua teaching Language Arts may have been the toughest job I will ever love and my Peace Corps work as a Regional Recruitment Representative was probably my favorite job, these last 18 months of being an International Baccalaureate Coordinator at a neighborhood Chicago school have been something else! This position might just rank up there with being the most challenging of my career, requiring me to call on all of my skills and experience to reach an end point.
And while I haven’t reached the actual end of my job (at least I sure hope not!), we did actually hit a huge milestone that needs to be celebrated. That milestone? My school’s inaugural IB Diploma Programme Senior Class–the Class of 2017–graduated last month.
Thinking of this special group today. So happy that I’ve stayed in contact with many of these students and I am so proud of all their accomplishments!!!!
But back to the present. There have been a couple of high points this past week in the midst of the stress of bringing this semester to a close (and the struggle of getting a fair COVID work agreement with Chicago Public Schools):
•Listening to the NPR Innovation Hub podcast “Society in the Time of Plague” with my students. Check it out if you get a chance. I was especially interested in the Swiss Cheese Defense around minute marker 45:00.
•Taking advantage of a free tele-therapy appointment Friday evening with a very kind therapist. My school district has included 5 free sessions of therapy in our benefits package (not sure if this was added since we went over to remote instruction) and since this month I have been struggling to feel ‘ok’ with life, I thought I should try it out. I’m glad I did and I felt our session was like a much needed oil change–or full body massage. After working with my rock star therapist Rebecca for a year and a half after my cancer diagnosis while we were in NOLA, I knew what I wanted to get out of the appointment and was glad that I found what I was looking for. The session helped me unload some of the sludge that has been building up and put some things into perspective. I signed off feeling much more energized. A definite win.
•Coaching Thursday evening for ROW. After a 3 month recess, I am easing back into coaching for ROW by coaching every other week. Thursday was only my second practice that I had led after my hiatus and I wasn’t too sure about how I would do considering how run down I was feeling. However, just like re-connecting with those extra special friendships in your life–where even after a long period of not seeing one another, you can pick up where you left off, as if you were never apart–I felt re-connected to my team with the practice. It wasn’t that I was coaching particularly well, it was that we were all connecting, having a laid back time, and enjoying one another’s company.
We even ended up having the most fun ‘cool down’ I’ve ever experienced in the 6 years I’ve been rowing with ROW! Mary had a rubber ducky toy thing on her erg machine handle and in noticing it, we ended up with two different ‘duck’ themed children’s songs being song by grandmothers Mary and Catherine and a request for the song “Disco Duck” which I jumped on providing! The giggles made my week. Good times! 🙂
•Virtually enjoying Mardi Gras season in NOLA! Since we moved back to Chicago, we haven’t had a chance to return to New Orleans which has been a big bummer–especially during Mardi Gras. I have figured out ways to adapt, though, by decorating, baking King Cake, and living vicariously through all of my friends’ and former students’ Mardi Gras experiences that are posted on social media.
Well, this year, Mardi Gras is looking very different in NOLA and all of us can enjoy the experience! Instead of floats, people are decorating their front porches and yards. Love the idea of ‘Float Houses’ and Yardi Gras! And yes, I plan to check out ‘Mardi Gras For All Y’All”! on February 12-14, or at least checking the festivities out at MardiGrasForAll. You?
And speaking of NOLA. If you are someone who likes panda or puppy videos, you have to check out this very heartwarming video with a dancing police horse.