There was no time to blog when I was switching gears.
I officially started a new job in January, the process of which had me in knots for 6 weeks before my first day. I teach online now at a school that wants the experience to be excellent. So do I. I’m using the same muscles that I used in a brick and mortar school with modern technology and logical challenges. Everywhere, kids are kids, and that’s the underlying comfort, for me, of switching schools.
I’ve been settling into the new position and the experience of working from home. When I worried about the transition, my friend said plainly, “You do well learning on the job,” which was just a simple observation she made about me that I hadn’t made about myself. It proves to be true for most of us, I think. Also, I’m still teaching, still in education. I am reminded that high school teachers can pretty much do any job out there, which is why it’s really kind of special–about the world of education–so many educators stay with it (and understandable when they don’t). I think the world’s nostalgic reverie for teachers tilts in the face of this modern era of choices—so many choices we have to make as parents as though education should only be a personalized, a la carte experience. The information era and this a la carte essence are hard on them and on us. But that’s a subject for another day. What rings true is that schools are remarkable entities, little ecosystems of which I’ve lived in for most of my life.
When I left the school I’d been teaching for almost 17 years, I didn’t get to say goodbye the way I wanted. I had been trying to prevent that for weeks, but red tape made it so I couldn’t either feel my transfer was complete or tell my students. I never envisioned my departure to be abrupt, a few emails near the last day of school. I knew somewhere there had to be a reason—maybe the churned-out nature of the transition is the only way I could have left? How else could I have left the home of my career? Maybe I’d never leave—as I hadn’t left when so many of my colleagues had over the years—if it weren’t for a compressed, difficult situation that kept renewing my fight for it at each turn. There was a hallway of memories that only I could rekindle, a cycle of seeing students grow and graduate, a cycle or remembering my own self waddling down the hallway with two pregnant bellies, an origin story of a young 23-year old figuring it out alongside her most favorite teacher friends that I was also mourning and remembering when I decided to leave.
But when some of my students came by on my last day and surprised me with gifts, tears, and warm wishes, I got a small taste of the good-bye I needed and maybe was able to give some of them the same in return. When I was packing up my classroom, I left two posters on my classroom walls for my teacher replacement. My secret message I borrowed from Zora Neale Hurston to future students.
Hurston says there are years that ask questions, and I have been in that phase for some time.
Working from home is different, perplexing actually. I’m in live classes all day and, like many teachers, have tributaries of work expectations that are invisible and incomprehensible to anyone who isn’t a teacher. Somehow my family thinks I’m working more, which is a funny statement because “more” is out of place. Teachers are always working more. But their statement is less how I understood it and probably just because they didn’t actually see me working when I’d leave the house and return. I had to laugh when they said it because it’s not a phrase that has a rubric or measure.
I have taken notes from family members and friends who’ve given me the ups and downs of working from home and tried to set a standard for myself to be easy on me, thanks Adele, and to embrace, most importantly, the reasons I decided the transition was right for me: to intensify my writing goals, to be physically present in my family’s life even more, and to grow with change.
The last few years I’ve been outside this blog home because I was focused on writing and revising a novel and writing short pieces to grow a collection. I’ve saved so much interior narration that normally comes out here and poured them into works whenever I could. I’ve also tried really hard to balance life and be in it. Writing here helps me do that, too, but I had to consolidate my writing head space. If you’ve been on here with me for a long time or you’re my friend, you know I work full time and have a full-time family; I enjoy working out and need outside walks as much as possible; I try to be a good friend; I respond to messages pretty fast and write paragraph text messages if I’m not voice memo-ing you. I believe firmly in Zan Zendegi Azadi; I have a liberal mind but have realized I live a pretty conservative life. I’m apparently a Parisian Perfectionist according to this quiz, so I’m always low-key hopeful that you’re pleased by me. I rarely relax the way I’m supposed to, and I love early, quiet mornings the way some people only light up when it’s late. I can sink into frenzied productivity and never leave it unless, well, have to. If my daughter texts me to ask that I make zereshk polo, I’ll do it with joy (happened yesterday, and I stopped, dropped, and rolled to do it). Sometimes I’m a little late because I was trying to squeeze in just one more thing. Lots of family work and the calendar of four lives jump around without a secretary in my head. Like most of you, I’m just trying to make it all work, sometimes giving myself a gold star, sometimes looking for them in a pile of dirty dishes, or sometimes unable to find the sticker pack because I’ve drifted into a self-critical mood.
If this is your first time here, welcome. I hope you’ll stick around for more coming soon since 2022 is still left to be processed and 2023 appears to me, InshaAllah, to be a year that answers some questions I’ve been humming for some time.