I’m learning that unpredictability is going to be a big part of my life now as a middle school teacher.
It’s kind of like four years ago when I was going through cancer treatments. One of my big struggles was the unpredictability then, too. How would the side effects manifest during chemo treatment? How would the radiation affect me as it progressed? How would surgery go? How much pain would I have? So many unpredictables. I hated that part of the cancer journey.
You’d think I’d have learned then that having expectations was a waste of time.
But no, I keep getting opportunities to learn that lesson . . . again and again.
This time it’s as a middle school teacher.
This past week of a holiday and weather effects on my schedule and my students gave me another chance to learn that lesson.
This was my last week:
Monday: MLK Holiday. I spend the day with a stomach bug, resting.
Tuesday: Back to school. A bright, sunny, cold day. All goes well.
Wednesday: No school because of sleet and icy conditions. I’ve come down with a different variation of the stomach bug. I’m grateful for a day to rest and recover.
Thursday: Two-hour delay for the start of school because of icy conditions. I go to school at 9:30, rested and refreshed. My students are wild in the afternoon. Extremely talkative. Extremely hyped up. I can’t calm them. I leave school in the afternoon thinking that I’m a very ineffective teacher. Is this really the job for me? I go home and realize that once again, I have to let it go . . . . don’t try to predict my whole teaching future from this one afternoon.
Friday: Early dismissal because of snow predicted for the afternoon. It’s announced the day before, so I expect the students to be wild again . . . but they’re not! They are calm, engaged, fun. I leave in the afternoon thinking I know nothing. I can’t predict behavior. I can only respond to it.
I said earlier that unpredictability was going to be a part of my life as a middle school teacher. Well, that’s only partially right.
Because life itself is inherently unpredictable. As much as I think I’d like some control over it, that’s not how it works – and that’s not how it should work.
There are blessings and curses in everything.
Sometimes problems are opportunities. In fact, they usually are.
Opportunities to change, to approach life in new ways. Ways I’d dare not try if all were going “well.”
So here I am on a Sunday afternoon making the transition from weekend to working week.
What do I expect this week to be like?
I choose to have no expectations!
Yes, I’m learning!
What will be, will be. And in it all, I’ll be looking for the opportunity.
To grow, to learn, to be present with my middle school students . . . however they are.
To learn with life, however it is.