I’ve been grumpy about work. This isn’t my usual curmudgeon self coming through, this is a real response to returning to work after the summer. This morning, I was thinking about why.
Let’s start with the cats. It always starts with the cats. There are now three of them. The lightning and thunder this morning, at 4:00 a.m., sent them into a bit of a frenzy. I was lucky enough to have been woken by my bladder around then, allowing me the opportunity to spend some time with them.
The sun rose behind clouds.
After a futile attempt to fall asleep on the couch for an hour, I got up after finishing today’s Wordle, the mini-crossword, and the easy sudoku on the NYT Games app. I made coffee. Luckily, there were enough grounds left in the coffee grinder, so I didn’t have to disturb Hannah’s sleep. The sunrise alarm started to light up in the bedroom. I did have to open the bedroom door to turn it off. I then had to close the door.
I fed the cats.
Around 7:30 a.m., I was ready to leave for work. My morning routine does take me a while to get through. While writing my morning pages, between about 5:45 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., I started to realise that the biggest shift that has happened in the last three days is the focus of my energies. Now, I’m no longer working for myself, toward my own goals, and in control of my next move. Now, I’m tasked with helping others achieve their goals.
In our staff meeting, one of the veteran teachers mentioned that she taught Drake, the famous rapper, when he was just a pimply-faced little boy. Now, he’s an international superstar who reps the six. Last year, a teacher who was Drake’s football coach retired. Drake had more than two teachers. They taught him something. He’s who he is, in part because of them. I don’t know if they knew, at the time, who he’d grow up to be, but they did do their level best to make sure that he had all they could offer to help him achieve success.
In a sense, I’m annoyed at the fact that I might be teaching another Drake, when all summer I was working at becoming an entrepreneur/pen maker/woodworker/blogger/YouTuber. My job — what pays for me to pursue my goals — is to offer my students the opportunity to become the best versions of themselves, to prepare them to pursue goals of their own. It’s a job that’s easy enough to do, but incredibly difficult to do well.
What I’ve lost sight of is how the job is serving me, outside of being a biweekly paycheque. I didn’t get into the profession for the money, or the fame. I got into the profession because I have a passion for learning, not for teaching. I’m letting myself get sidetracked by administrative tasks, offhanded remarks, and inefficiencies. I’m spending too much time thinking, and complaining, about how things could be better, and not enough energy on making changes within my sphere of influence.
You have got to get up early if you want to make change, because of birds and worms, and thunderstorms and cats.
Originally published at https://www.bernardwalter.com on September 7, 2023.