Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting the worrying out of my system

Prepping new units, updating grades, meetings after school that conflict with cross country, writing college recommendation letters... these are the activities that have occupied my time this week. I enjoy being busy, and in many ways I thrive when I'm busy... but when that feeling of busy-ness approaches inundation I start to immobilize pretty fast. I tend to not have the greatest coping mechanisms for feelings of stress as I lean more toward flight than fight. Problem is, when you run away from stress that comes from having many things to do, those things will still be there when you get back, only now you've wasted valuable time running away.

I've been reasonably productive today, but still, there were moments where I really did feel like I was juggling torches in a warehouse whose floors had been soaked in gasoline and I knew I'd have to let a torch drop and just accept it. For example: overestimating the time it would take my Juniors to finish their fill-in-the-blank vocab test. At this same time last year, it took the Juniors most of the class period to finish their vocab tests (these are long tests, by the way--typically a 3-4 page story with our vocab words left blank). The students sped up as the year went on, but that group as a whole tended to be very thorough and many students double-checked and even triple-checked their answers to make sure they were correct. Little things like that--they take time.

Different story with this group: the first few finished after 10 minutes, and then a deluge of tests came in between 15 and 25 minutes. Meanwhile, I'm trying to grade the tests during the period (I always managed to do this without any hassle last year... since I wrote the tests myself, it takes me 45 seconds to a minute to grade each one) and signing kids out to go to either the lab or the library to work on a report I'd assigned earlier in the week (at least I'd assigned something to my Humanities students--my 6th period English students had nothing that they were working on and wound up having most of a class period as a study hall after they finished the test--a giant しょうがない moment (shouganai translates roughly to "It cannot be helped")). Next time, I'll plan something out for them to work on after finishing the test.

So, I'm juggling torches. Somehow I manage to catch all of them just in the nick of time, and nothing has burned down so far, but I'm starting to feel like if another torch gets thrown into the mix, everything will go up in smoke. That's not a fun feeling. I just need to keep moving and not freeze up or run away because if I do either of those things, the torches will hit the ground and I'll get burned... bad.

Okay, that's enough worrying out loud for the time being... I've got prep to do!

**After I posted this note, I read through a verse that had come up in a class discussion earlier today with the Freshmen:

Matt. 7: 25-27

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

This isn't an invitation to blow off my work, to procrastinate, or to pretend my duties don't exist, but it is a reminder that God will provide for me in my busy-ness. I'm not on my own in tackling a zillion different things, nor could I even begin to accomplish everything I need to do on my own strength. I simply need to do my best and leave the rest up to God. Will it be challenging? Yeah, for sure. Should I let my busy-ness consume me? Absolutely not.

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