I'll be honest, this has been a difficult school year. I have been stretched, challenged, and drained. I am tired. I am worn out. I feel devalued and disrespected. As a Specials teacher, unfortunately, I'm used to this. But this year has been different. This year it has affected my instruction, me personally, and my passion for teaching. It's been a hard year.
But, this past weekend, I traveled to Chicago and spent time with my people. 5,000+ art educators were in attendance, but I got to spend time with my art teacher friends. Ladies that I went through grad school with; ladies that understand me; ladies that I can pick up where we left off after a year of being apart. These ladies are my people. I look forward to this conference each year. I NEED this conference each year. It's refreshing, invigorating, and energizing. Not only are the workshops helpful, the time with my people is so.needed.
It always comes at the right time. March is a CRAZY month for art teachers. Maybe it's just in my county? But it is absolutely crazy. Youth Art Month, Tapestry Art Show, and just craziness in general. It's crazy. Did I mention, March is crazy!?
Here was my schedule last week:
Thursday - half day sub to hang Tapestry show at county offices
Friday - No School
Monday - Tapestry Reception 6 - 7:30 pm
Tuesday - Stayed late to do sub plans (for those of you non-teachers, sub plans always take longer than you think. It's usually just easier to come to work sick than to do sub plans.) & Kiln fire!?*
Wednesday - Doctor appointment to remove stitches
Thursday - 5:30 am - Leave for airport
Friday - Saturday - Chicago for NAEA Convention
I love my people. I needed the time away from the routine and the time with them. I was reminded of why I teach. I was excited again and refreshed for my classroom. We talked. We shared. We ate together. We stayed up late. We rode trains. We got up early. We attended workshops. I love my time with them.
We stayed in an AirBnB this year, and it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. (And more cost effective!) The condo slept 8 people comfortably and was in a beautiful neighborhood of Chicago. I felt I got a city experience instead of a conference experience. I loved our commute to and from the convention. NAEA is an amazing experience each year for so many reasons.
I came back renewed and excited to teach again. I came back pumped up and ready to finish the year strong!
In one short week, I have reverted to the disheartened and drained teacher. Large classes, disrespectful students, and silly complaints from parents wear on you. Maybe I need a thicker skin. Maybe I need to learn to let it go. But I don't. I can't. I'm tired. I plan to remember Chicago and cling to the experiences I had there. Cling to the excitement. I can do this. I can make it to the end of the year!
This is why I am thankful. In this case, I am so very thankful for a busy schedule. I am a believer in things happening for a reason. God was watching out for me and my school. I HAD to stay late Tuesday (instead of waiting until the next day) to do my sub plans for NAEA because of my doctor appointment Wednesday. And because I was there so late (it was 7:30 pm), I heard the firecracker pops the kiln made when the plug sparked in the socket. It sparked in the socket and melted! I was able to get the custodian who flipped the breaker to OFF and unplugged the kiln for me. We called the after-hours electrician, and crisis averted! No fires started. I am so very thankful for Anto and for staying late for sub plans.