Finding the Middle.

Currently I’m working on my own happy beginning. One that is independent of anyone else. I was looking for some idea of where I should go. Where was it that would make me happy? Where should I begin again? I kept finding extremes, and I oh so desperately don’t want to be trapped by the extremes. I want to find a happy middle ground (not quite the same as that quote, but also part of what I’m searching for).

One thing that has kept me searching is the fear that I am not good at my job. I’ve discussed it a number of times, and so I probably shouldn’t go into it again, but I’ll give you the short version. Or rather, I’ll try; brevity is not my strong suit…

brevityjoke

I have this ideal about education that is based on my own high school experience, which, as I’ve discussed with some of my old classmates, was apparently abnormally progressive. As I remember it, in my high school being smart wasn’t frowned upon. Those of us that were in the Gifted and Talented (GT) classes were equally involved in all the other areas of school. We weren’t ostracized as nerds… well most of us weren’t; I can think of a classmate or two that chose to embrace that stereotype.

We were equally divided in the sports and arts. Some of us became leading figures in things like track, basketball, softball, swimming, and who knows what else, while the others of us joined the arts: band, theatre, art, photography, etc. I was of the latter group. I played saxophone in the band and was a fairly active member of the theatre troupe, Burnet Ensemble Theatre Company, or BETC (often pronounced like the name “Betsy”). I even took photography for 3 years. I think it was three years….

However many years, the point is I floated between various artsy groups, but my connection with my sporty compatriots in the advanced classes meant that I transcended all sorts of boundaries and thus was more popular than I would have been at a more traditional high school. You know, those schools that have well defined cliques, where you are expected not to cross the lines of one group into the next.

Cliques_colored

Between my abnormally progressive high school and my experiences at college, I’ve realized that I was blessed. My entrance into society was not the norm, and it has made me a very open-minded person. It’s also made me a little…idealistic.

Someone recently pointed out that my idealism is apparently problematic. I think he even went so far as to point out that my idealism was hiding my insecurities.

He was referencing my spiritual beliefs, which are not exactly easily definable and I had not chosen to go into the discussion of specifics, so to claim they hid insecurities was a rather condescending thing to say and not appreciated.

The jury’s still out as to whether or not his explanation of what he actually meant is an acceptable excuse. If so, our discourse can continue. Jury’s still out about that as well.

Thus we’ve come to some of the point of this post: How do you find the middle ground? Any middle ground! In work, in relationships, in life in general…

middlegroundvsmiddleearth

Where work is concerned, I find that my reviews go from one extreme to another. All observations from people outside of where I work (such as people from the state or regional organizations) are filled with positive feedback about me utilizing new methods that emphasize higher order thinking skills.

My administrators, on the other hand, rarely have anything positive to say: My room is a little messy and my classroom management isn’t as solid as they’d like. See, I don’t mind kids sitting on the floor if they’re working; I’d have couches in my room if I could, and lamps instead of those ridiculously brain numbing fluorescent lights. Basically, I like a laid-back class.

My classmates from back home will know exactly where I get this idea. I had two English teachers who taught me more than anyone else and both embraced comfort and promoted creativity. The creative part has now been show to be the highest form of assessment in the new version of Bloom’s Taxonomy… how’s that for Rigor?

blooms Taxonomy

The problem is that this ideal of a creative classroom goes against this strange belief that school has to be boring. If my students are comfortable, it’s assumed that they aren’t learning. Sitting on the floor means they aren’t working?

The hell it does.

studentsonfloor

But people walk into my classroom (and by people, I mean administrators), and they assume there is a lack of rigor, a lack of structure, a lack of actual work being done.

At my new school, it’s less the administrators, but just the Viking. He thinks he’s an administrator, and takes quite a few liberties that have made me pretty much hate him. The kids get frustrated more than I do. They feel he undermines me, and they are constantly telling me how he “snitches” on me, when I’m not doing anything wrong.

management

But the damage is done, and the doubt sets in.

That doubt in my ability (as it sometimes gets put on my official report) makes me doubt. Logic tells me that the people who see me every day have a better summation of my abilities. Even though the people from outside are better suited to judge me because they’ve done the research, I fear that perhaps the snippet they see is a fluke. I feel like I’m teaching the same as I usually do, but what if it’s still just some sort of happy accident that they came in on a day when the kids were better behaved or I happen to be more prepared? Then I begin to think that I should change my class to fit the way my coworkers run their rooms…

But I cannot make my classroom into a prison! I get nervous at the straight rows. Give me a Socratic circle any day!

american-high-school-classroom-1

And I hate the silence. Seriously, if my kids are too quiet, I freak out a little. It means I’ve bored them and that they’ve shut down on me…

And then I shut down. I feel like a failure, and I quit liking my job. In fact, I start becoming jaded and I quit trying. I give up. I’d rather run away than watch my students be robots pretending to learn.

But there has to be a happy middle ground. There has to be a way to make the administrators happy while allowing me to be creative and keep my students engaged….

the-economist-no-middle-ground-small-65430

Unfortunately, I have a similar problem with my relationships. I see and feel things in extremes. Just yesterday I talked the Boy into hanging out with me, even though he swore he really wanted to be alone. My argument was that usually when people want to be alone is when they really need people around… Or at least that’s how it goes for me.

Either way, we had fun, we really did. It was good, and I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to leave and go back to feeling alone… even though our fun was just friendly fun, I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts and my fears. So I pushed to extend the fun.

I think I ended up insulting him. I even had to apologize (rightly so) for a comment I made about him not caring about my opinion… As he pointed out, if he didn’t care about my opinion, he wouldn’t have come out at all.

I’ve got to admit I was in the wrong there.

I’m worried about him, and I’m not the only one. Without going into all his own personal drama, he’s kind of going through the very thing he put me through: Not knowing the reason for what’s being done to him.

Some of you may remember that when he ended it with me during the first incarnation of our relationship (generic term), he kept telling me it wasn’t anything that I had done… There wasn’t anything wrong with me, I was just not what he wanted, although his actions had always suggested otherwise.

its-not-you-its-me

Now that he is going through something of a similar variety, I am torn between my…I’m not sure what to call it, it’s not pleasure because I don’t like to see my friend in pain, but it’s almost a satisfaction, yes we’ll go with that… I’m torn between my satisfaction that he will finally understand what he put me through, and my anger at his situation because I don’t think he deserves to be in the situation he’s in.

Then again, I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was either, and he may not actually see it the same way. But either way, I know he’s not suited to deal with it.

Hell I wasn’t suited to deal with it, and I’ve been blown off plenty! It put me into a 2 month depression where I slept my life away for a while. He can’t do that. I shouldn’t have done it, but he really CAN’T do it.

Carrying-a-Heavy-LoadSo now I’m trapped between the extreme where my Mom instinct has kicked in and I feel like I should check on him every day to make sure he’s alright, and yet I know that will only make things worse, because it didn’t do me any good when people checked on me. Then again, I wanted to wallow in my depression. I wanted to give up. I was tired of being the strong one, but I didn’t have anyone to help take the burden off of me.

It was a mistake, but it’s brought me to a healthier place.

So maybe I’ve found the middle ground after all.

At least for myself. Hmmm. I’ll have to think about it. I’ll get back to you after some reflection…

self-reflection

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