Appreciating My Circumstances

Wait, that title makes it seem like I’m in a bad situation and making the best of it. Nope. I’m in a great situation and taking the time to appreciate it.

My return as secondary enrichment resource teacher has been a great relief. While I remember what chaos I seemed to be in last year at this time, this year I wouldn’t so much say I have a “controlled” burn, but am definitely more aware of the parameters.

I’m settling in for my second year on the enrichment team. What a great feeling to return to a job I enjoy, that both challenges and rewards me practically every day. I hope to also earn more trust in  my role from students, teachers, and administrators.  I think a great compliment to hear is to “ask [insert your name], she will have an answer for you” and I hope that will start happening for me.

We’ve been busy in enrichment already, arranging school visits and testing right from the get-go. I’ve already been to almost all of the 12 schools in my district, delivering information about programming, opportunities, and field trips. That show is getting stale, and I’m ready to move on to the next item.

Last year, I was overwhelmed at the start of the year and couldn’t even think about two events that have previously run in September or early October. This year, we’ve already had one event and that second one has been planned and have already been collecting the permission forms. I’m going to go ahead and say : improvement! I won’t lie and say everything has been running as smooth as silk, but they are running and who hasn’t wanted to make changes to events even when they go mostly as planned?

My first event was meant as a fun back to school type event. As mentioned above, I have 12 secondary schools and the students don’t always get a chance to meet each other. I wanted to start off the year and get the 9’s in right away meeting other kids and seniors meeting seniors who might have the same interests, goals, and perhaps post-secondary plans.

The plan was to mix the schools on teams, play silly field games, and earn minutes towards a breakout box puzzle to close the day. Sounds easy, right? Ha. You haven’t dealt with Eva before.

Perhaps worse than pouring rain, was the record breaking heat. We were weighed down from the moment we stepped off our bus. Seeing as this is a meet and greet fun day, it will so much fun playing those cheesy ice breakers. Except that, Eva didn’t actually plan cheesy ice breakers and just threw kids into teams and told you to find your first game station. (Price is Right loser music plays – wahwah) How does one overlook that? Nevertheless, the games are pretty silly, so taking photos will be a laugh riot. Except that, Eva didn’t actually take any pictures. (I was so busy wiping sweat off my brow, I neglected to get any photos!) The games will be hysterical and I will make an announcement when everyone can change stations. Except that, it was so hot and the games only took a fraction of the time I thought, people were constantly moving from game to game. No worries, it’s lunch time, so let’s take a break and cool off.

I spend my entire lunch break setting up the room for breakout boxes, I was disappointed that I didn’t personally speak to each of my students! The point was for them to meet each other and for me to meet with them and get to know them and see what their needs are.

I did make it outside to see the colour powder bombing that was meant to happen. Students could voluntarily decided to run a little obstacle course to earn extra minutes for their breakout box. At the end of the course, students were waiting to douse you with coloured powder. Good news, everyone was a coloured mess. Bad news, some of that powder ended up staining the floors and walls. Oh, and I forgot to take pictures again. Luckily my colleagues, with much cooler heads, remembered to do this, and we do have photographic evidence that the day actually happened.

Fast forward to breakout boxes. Students love these. This is a no brainer. But guess what, the day was running long and the bus driver said we needed to leave, but some groups hadn’t finished and we had 9 minutes left of the clock. Ok. Thanks for coming. Bye. No wrap up. No final speech, no looking forward to the year. “Hurry and get on the bus” is not the ideal way to say thanks for coming!

So I guess you can see I was feeling disappointed in myself for my games day. It didn’t seem to be going as planned. It was hot. Really hot. Kids weren’t smiling. We were running late. I didn’t speak to everyone. I didn’t take pictures. I looked like a sweaty goon.

But then, like every sappy movie that I’ve ever seen, the inspirational music started playing in my head.  My students didn’t complain. (I mean they might when they got home but….) No one was injured. No one was lost. Nothing was broken. It wasn’t silent, kids were talking to each other. I saw the photographic evidence!! Every single kid participated in the colour run and was a mess. YAY!

I couldn’t tell you how much respect I have for these students. They participated in ridiculous games, got hot and sweaty, were messy, and worked on the breakout boxes until they were almost literally torn away by the bus honks. And they didn’t complain. And they smiled for pictures. And they said thank you to teachers. And were polite. I was almost in tears as every kid departed and was grateful for people who attempted to plan something for them.

I learned a real lesson about students Friday. How mature of these teenagers to be aware that someone was planning to benefit them and even if it fell short of their expectations, they recognized the effort and were grateful for the attempt. I need to remember this the next time I attend an event – everyone there is trying to make the experience for you, the least you can do is jump in and smile.

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