Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Viva la Vida- Coldplay

I am supremely uncomfortable.

It has been a rough week, full of reflection, that has left me feeling a bit fragile. 

First of all, let me say THANK YOU to all the people who have made this last year one of the most amazing of my life.  My family and friends, you have been there through the highs and lows and have supported me as I started to grow wings and step outside of my comfort zone.  It has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions and I have always known that no matter how scary the drop, you were going to be there cheering me on. I could not have done this without you.

Growth does not come without growing pains.  All of a sudden, or so it felt, a series of things hit me at once and I'm just not sure how to handle it.  The end of my reign as Teacher of the Year is this week, Wednesday in fact (The Queen is dead, long live the Queen.), and I am just exhausted.  I have done my best to represent NJ education and put over 17,000 miles on the car as I have travelled all over NJ to talk to students, teachers, parents, politicians and anyone else who will listen.   


 My magic coach turned back into a pumpkin and I had to give back the teachermobile this week. I have been able to put off buying a new car for a year, but the time came last week to face the music.  It took six guys to sell me my new car and although I like my new ride, I am not looking forward to a car payment for the next five years.   
I am also in the middle of planning a Forum for award winning educators and their administrators.  It is looking like registration will hit 150 people and most of all, I want these educators to feel like the rock stars they are.  I don't want to lecture at them, I want them to be able to network, share best practices, and show their administrators what can happen when you put a group of dynamic educators in a room together.  Of course, I am trying to do this while I will be at a conference.  Yikes! 
I had dinner with the 2013 Teacher of the Year this week, who is just wonderful and a real dynamo that will represent NJ education well.   However, it is all still top secret until Wednesday, so you will have to wait for details.  One tradition I can tell you about that I worked on this week is that we NJTOYs get together and take the newest member of our family out for dinner so we get the chance to meet and share some words of wisdom. 

Anyway, the ceremony (Coronation Day) is on Wednesday is followed by my last National TOY conference on Thursday.  As usual, it is just in time and I can't wait to see these people who have become my extended family.  But this time, the joy that I get in seeing them will also be tinged with sorrow because this is our last official gathering.  It is a sad truth that I will never see some of these people again.  
I am currently on loan to the Dept of Education and it is difficult adjusting to the quiet life of a pink cubicle.  I am having issues because unlike a classroom where you have extreme highs and lows every day, sometimes in the same class period, a cubicle is remarkably calm.  There is no routine or structure to my day, no chaos, no group of people all demanding your attention at the same time, and most of all, no way to know if you are making a difference in the world. Silence can be deafening sometimes and I miss the noise.  I know I made the right choice to work with the DOE, but it is an adjustment I am making one small step at a time. I wish I could do both teach and work with the DOE, that would be a dream job. 
One of the things that got me thinking was an assignment for the upcoming conference where they want us to share best practices from our classroom. It has been hard enough adjusting to life without students, I am afraid this reminder of how much I miss them will leave me an emotional wreck. 
This gathering of TOYs and the arranging of the NJTOY dinner to welcome our newest family member got me thinking.  I began to reflect on what I have accomplished this past year and thinking about what other NJ TOYs have done.  In just the last 12 years of TOYS we have an Executive Director of a national organization, someone who created their own successful math and physics program that is now being used around the world, prestigious national and state award winners, teaching ambassador fellows, Smart board experts, administrators, NBCTs, leaders of major educational groups and a whole host of other things too long for me to mention.  Then there is me feeling woefully inadequate in relation to this pantheon of giants in education.  I feel unworthy to be counted among them because I don't feel like I have accomplished anything of substance.  I give a great motivational speech, but that only gets you so far.  I am hoping my best and most lasting work is yet to come as I transition from my year of recognition to my years of service.


All these things began to manifest themselves in me by the end of the week.  It was not about handing over the title, like I said, I am very happy for the new TOY and couldn't be prouder.  I was tired, and the person staring back at me when I saw my reflection in the mirror looked old.  I became easily agitated and snapped at a friend and I even yelled at my cat.  I felt like I was fraying at the edges and set adrift without direction.  I knew that this was not normal for me, but was this normal for a TOY?  Only one group of people could tell me.
It turns out I am normal (debatable, but thank goodness!) but growing does not come without considerable frustration and discomfort.  I'll be fine, it is just going to take some time. 
Just as I was trying to wrap my head around all of this, I came down with a cold that knocked me out all weekend.  All of this stress to deal with combined with an illness means that I am one big emotional blob.  Not a pretty sight.         

     I ended up at my Mom's on Sunday for some much needed TLC.  My family is not very demonstrative when it comes to emotions, but I know they are always there to support me.  Mom asked if I had read an article in the paper that morning, which I hadn't yet, because it reminded her of me.  Curious, I checked it out.
The piece, written by Lisa Scottoline for the Philadelphia Inquirer, finally made me smile this week. Lisa was talking about watching her daughter give a speech and said this,
Someone said to me, "She's her mother's daughter."
And I said, "Thanks, but she's herself, and she's amazing."....

It was that kind of weekend.
Stars collided, then aligned. And I got to see my own special star shine, bathing me in her light, leaving me blissful and blessed.
There can be no greater pleasure, as a parent, than watching your child come fully into her own, taking all of her God-given talents and putting them to their most perfect use.
That feeling?
It's Mom Heaven.

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I realized after reading it that someone had been paying attention this year and she is very proud of me.
I love you too, Mom


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