Friday, January 2, 2009

Teaching is a Job

This is probably the first and last time I'll write two posts in two days, but as any teacher knows, when you have the time, use it! Today I was pondering what is worth missing a day of teaching for. My sister in D.C. is having surgery (routine, but still surgery) on Tuesday, and I am going to fly down for the day to help out, take her to the hospital, etc. To me its a no-brainer - my family needs me, I'm there. No questions asked. Of course, with my family, nothing is simple. We have to figure out which family members to tell about my sister's surgery and in what order. Will my mom fly out from Arizona? Will I take a cab from the airport or take the metro - and who will pay for it? Its all so complicated for no reason at all. What surprises me though, is my reaction to missing a day of school. It will be the second day back from the two week break that was already too long because of snow days. It is the day of the week that I see my students the most because of my school's wacky schedule. It was the day we were supposed to finish the novel, and so I will need to do some serious lesson plan adjusting. And yet, when I told my sister it was no big deal to miss a day of work, I meant it.

Having all of this going on reminded me of Gary's second lung collapse, during my first year of teaching. Then I had to take a day off to stay home with him since he couldn't really do anything for himself. That time I was seriously stressed about missing work even considering the context. I think I honestly believed that if I was gone for a day and left lame sub-plans (the students were left with busy work that only three of them actually did) then my students' learning would be seriously damaged. Now I look back and can't believe my arrogance. Yes, I am the teacher, and the students learn more when I am there (at least I hope so!) But having someone else cover for a day does not hurt them and it certainly isn't the end of the world. One of the main benefits to getting laid off last year, from a job that I worked insanely hard at, was the realization that, when push comes to shove, teaching is a job. It might feel like a calling or identity sometimes, but when my family or friends need me, the job takes a backseat. So, my students will be using a handout to aid in their understanding of the end of The Color Purple on Tuesday, but we'll get back to the discussion, deeper analysis and writing on Wednesday. And maybe putting family first isn't a bad thing for my students to see.

Yummy Stuff
Last night we splurged and ordered Indian food (Gary was not happy about it, but I really, really wanted samosas and I haven't figured out how to make them well myself). However, rather than pay ten bucks for chana masala, I made a quick version of my own to go with our appetizer plate. I sauteed a chopped up onion with 2 T of garam masala, some chili powder and coriander. Then I dumped in a cup and a half of chickpeas and a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes and 4 T of tomato paste. Then I just let it simmer until the delivery showed up - about 20 minutes. It wasn't bad for a randomly tossed together dish, and it tasted great with samosas!
Tonight, in the interest of getting back to being healthy we are making Southern New Year's Day Soup from Vegetarian Times with black-eyed peas, collard greens and veggies galore! I think I'll make some whole-wheat bread in the bread machine to go with it. That should counteract the greasy-goodness from last night.

1 comment:

Mandy Eppley said...

You probably don't realize anyone's reading this, but I saw it on your facebook page... Anyway, I just have to say I'm right with you with the priorities thing. I remember when you took the time off when Gary was sick, and I remember being amazed (as a first year teacher) that you did take the time off, and wondering how you did it. What were we thinking? I think you're right on with the idea that it's a good and healthy example for the students to see that you do put your family first.