Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Teacher

The videotaped micro-lesson is done. I hit it out of the park, as did most of my classmates. So nice to be part of a group that is not only passionate about the content we will be teaching, but about actually teaching students. It's that latter part--that strong classroom presence, that general interest in kids--that makes for a good experience for students. In the "warm and cool" feedback that we shared among our peers after each micro-lesson, the stand-out warm feedback for me was that "students are going to feel very safe and comforted" in my classes, according to one of my classmates. I hope so. If I can create that kind of environment, then maybe I will have an easier time reaching them and teaching them. And, bonus, maybe I'll have fewer classroom management issues to deal with as well.

Maybe.

So I'm done with class for three weeks. What a nice break, although I'm sure that halfway through our week of family togetherness I'll be wishing for 40 minutes alone in the car with some 90s east coast rhymes and a big mug of tea. But alas, that's what our escape to the City will be next week. We'll need to escape New Haven for a few hours. One day we will pile into the car--or train, not sure yet--and head into NY. I'm so overdue for that excursion. I cannot wait.

I'm really feelin' Christmas this year. It snuck up on me last weekend, as soon as class ended and I suddenly had the headspace to realize that the holiday was a week away. I have always loved Christmas, but this year there is something more to it, although I'm not sure what that actually is. Maybe it's a general sense of contentment? Anticipation? I'm excited about so many things: Seeing my cousin from out of town. Baking cookies with my BFF. Wrapping presents. Taking a week off. Seeing Sean and his BFF together as altar servers at Christmas Eve mass. Seeing Sean and Nolan put the baby Jesus in the cradle of Great Grandma's manger from the '20s. Christmas Eve appetizers with the in-laws. Christmas bandanas and bells on the dogs. A few more runs squeezed in between now and the holidays, to burn off those extra cookies. I have so many reasons to appreciate this season. And I will absolutely treasure the holiday with my family. I cannot wait for a quiet and lazy Christmas morning with Ian and the kids. And then later, my brother, sister, mom, two uncles and grandmother will join us for a nice fire and feast.

I will truly savor that family time this year. Grandma and Uncle John are getting old. Frail. And Grandma is back on chemo again for the umpteenth time in four years. It is miraculous that she has managed to live with cancer this long, going off chemo for months at a time because the tumor markers were so low. She still lives in the house where I grew up, where she's lived for more than 50 years. She still drives herself everywhere. But this round of chemo has not been kind to her. She's not feeling well. She's not hungry. And worse, she's becoming discouraged. This makes her angry, since it's not like her to be discouraged. So then she compounds it all by being hard on herself for being angry.

Hopefully she'll be feeling a bit better for Christmas. I know she will rise to the occasion, no matter what. She is excited to spend the holiday with close, immediate family. She will make the best of it , no matter how lousy she feels. She always has. She is a pillar of strength. But she's tired of being so strong for so long. I see that. My mother sees that. And sometimes, we want to look away.

I am lucky to still have my grandmother in my life, just as I was lucky to be 20 before her mother died at 98. I was close to Great Grandma, and I am exceptionally close to Grandma. A sixth-grade English teacher for 40 years and the daughter of a teacher, she is so supportive of my choice to enter the profession. She loves talking about my experiences in the certification program. Pedagogy. Time managment. Grading. Lesson planning. She is a font of experience and insight. I'm grateful that I can have these conversations with her. I am grateful that I can call her up on the phone and chat. I am grateful that I can swing by her house for a few minutes to check on her, rubbing her back to warm her up when the chemo gives her chills. I rub her back, water her plants, open Gatorade bottles and get the paper for her. I wrap the blankets snugly around her, hug her close, warm her up, and remind her that it will pass, praying that this time it really will. And then, something to read in hand, she sends me on my way, insisting that she will be fine. She will just rest. And read. And drink. And recover.

Merry Christmas. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, then a happy holiday season/winter solstice to you. And above all, may you and yours have a happy and healthy 2012.

xo

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