Connecting With Myself

For eight years I have chased down all of the knowledge that I could about my chosen field: early childhood education. I have an impressive library of education themed books, some of which I haven’t even cracked open yet. I also have a huge Amazon wish list of even more books that I would like to own. To me, knowledge makes the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher. I have used my classroom as a way to try out ideas and find out what works and what doesn’t, and I have counted myself lucky that I have worked in environments that celebrated that rather than tried to stifle it. And I have used this blog as a place to chronicle the journey as I have gone through many different phases in my teaching career.

Through most of these years the pace I had set for myself was frantic: I was constantly stressed out and worried about doing well, learning enough. I even used my vacation a few years ago to go to a conference. I wouldn’t trade the experience of that conference for anything in the world, but as I sit here today and look at all of that hectic energy I have to ask myself, “How did I do all of that? And more importantly, why?” Because just in the past month my demeanor has become a lot calmer. I still have all of the books, and the desire for knowledge is still strong. But the frantic pace is gone. The desire for the frantic pace is gone. At least for now.

I remember when school would let out for the semester and I would try to dive back into the independent research that I had been doing. It never worked. It seemed like my mind needed a little bit of down-time from the craziness that was school before it could focus on anything else. I learned to take that time to catch up on some shows that I hadn’t seen in a while, or catch up on my house cleaning, or play some video games that I hadn’t had time for. After a month or so my brain would be ready to tackle the books and the theories and the blogging and the frantic out-of-school activities that I had for myself.

I haven’t been in school since May, and I left the job that was causing me all sorts of stress in September. In October I took the first real vacation that I’ve had in years – I didn’t do any work at all during that vacation. I had planned to do some work, but all I really needed was the down time. My long Thanksgiving weekend was spent playing some mindless singing monster game that my daughter wanted me to get into with her, along with some other video games. I read some books, but not the technical, early childhood based books that I have glutted myself on for so long. I’ve spent a lot of time connecting with myself. Teaching can leave you feeling so stressed out because you are constantly taking care of others. There have been some days when I have threatened to change my name because I have been so tired of hearing it when children need something from me! I have tried to reconnect with me and feel myself here. For so long I have felt like just a brain – that may sound funny, but when your primary purpose is to educate yourself and gain knowledge, it can feel like the only part of you that matters is your brain. You forget that you are a person and you have other needs and wants and hopes and dreams that may exist outside of the classroom or the books on your bookshelf.

I thought that when I got my degree things would change. I thought I would have a little more credibility in the field and be taken seriously as a teacher. I was wrong. The degree has turned out to be just another piece of paper, and that fact has made it hard for me to justify going back to school to get a higher degree. Especially since I have all of this knowledge built up from all of my own work that I have been doing. Credibility comes from action, not from a piece of paper. When I take myself seriously, I am taken seriously as a teacher. I have to recognize that the education that I received is for myself and not for everyone around me. And I will continue to educate myself, but because I am recognizing that my education is for me and not for everyone else I can choose what I want to educate myself about. I can take charge of my own education.

But enough about education and school. This post is about connecting with myself and recognizing that I am more than just the brain that I have been filling with knowledge. It is time for me to reconnect with myself first of all, and all of the things out there that I want to learn about. There is an entire world out there to explore, and only one life to explore it in.

In my last post I talked a lot about values and defining what your values are. The last time I sat down and defined my values it was for my classroom. I defined my purpose as Exploring Natural Curiosity, but that purpose wasn’t for me; it was for the children that I had in the class. I am naturally curious about a lot of things, and I think that we all are. Throughout our lives we tend to say, “I want to do x, y, and z,” but then we never actually go out and do it. We get caught up in jobs and life and that dream passes us by. And then we grow old and wish that we had done those things that we said that we wanted to do. It is time to reconnect with our selves and the passion that lives within us for life.

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What A Year

About a year ago, my house got broken into. Computers were stolen – computers that I needed for my business. Games and gaming systems were stolen, and a gun that my fiance kept was stolen. While sorting through the reality of the situation, we decided that the best thing for us to do would be to move. We moved in with my fiance’s mom. We stayed there until the end of February, when we moved into an apartment.

I have read many of the posts that I wrote during the past year, and I am astounded by my lack of mental clarity during this time. I guess that is to be expected, considering the transitions that we went through during that time. The feeling that you have to leave a place that was your home because it is no longer safe is a very emotional experience. I’m not sure that I had ever really gotten in touch with my emotions about it during that time.

Since we have moved, I can tell that my mental clarity is much better. And looking back on all of the mental craziness that I have been through, I have to give myself the respect that I deserve for sticking by what I believe in when it comes to educating the children in my care. I didn’t give in to compromise. I questioned that choice over and over again, but today – as I look back on everything that has happened and think about where things are now – I am so glad that I did choose not to compromise. That choice has carried me to where I am now.

I can feel that my mind is clearer. Lately, I have begun to apply aspects of Conscious Discipline in my classroom again – without even trying! It is like it is coming back to me, second nature, because I feel safe again and in the right frame of mind to begin building relationships with the children in my care with the respect that I demand that everyone around me use when working with me. And I haven’t really begun to demand that others use that respect as much as they should in my classroom, but I think that I am going to start. My classroom has truly been a different place in the past couple of weeks, as I find my footing and deal with the children differently. And there is even more to it! I have found myself beginning to plan differently than I have in an entire year, and that planning has led to a classroom that is more involved, busier, and learning more than it has in an entire year. And all because I didn’t compromise. I am still not compromising, because even the classroom that I am in now is not the ideal situation. But I have turned it into an almost perfect situation simply by my mindset, and I am taking it day by day.

I have also gone back to school. I have found that my degree is almost a necessity at this time, and I am working hard to get it. At this time it should take me about a year to get it, and between that and the planning and research that I am doing for my classroom, I will be quite busy for the foreseeable future. I am hoping that, with my new clarity of mind, I will be able to post more often as I learn even more about myself and the career that I love.