February 3, 2011 I wrote this post:
The Boat. Or what it feels like to be a first year teacher.*
So there is this big sea. And it is all full of math (and other) teachers. And they are all in their ships. And their ships are super super cool, like with fancy masts and steering devices and sails and the what not. And they are sailing along building new and fancy things for their ships. Once and while they have an issue but you know they have all this stuff to fix their issues. So yea, the crow’s nest is tipping but it’s cool cause they have just the right tool for that. And they have holes sometimes but they have patches to fix their holes.
And then there’s me. And I am swimming. I have one maybe two pieces of wood that I am attempting to nail together while swimming. Which is tough let me tell you. I have all the tools to make a boat but I have to carry them while swimming and hold my wood together and hammer the nail.
And while I am doing all this the teachers in the other boats (and anyone else who thinks/ heard/ knows anything about boatbuilding) are all throwing plans at me. How to build rotating crow’s nests, tye dyed sails and self steering ships and telling me how important all these things are.
And I am treading water, trying to hold on to all of my tools and hammer my wood together and sometimes I just want to yell,
“I DON’T EVEN HAVE A BOAT, YET.”**but there is a yet
Now, let me tell you, in year ten, I have a boat. It is beautiful and it is different than I ever imagined. It is full of memories of students it has carried. It has so much room for all of them and their baggage. It carries them and me with room to spare. It has so many gadgets and tricks and rainbow sails that blow in the wind. But often, even with all my new ideas, I still chart my course using pencil and paper.
My ship now helps other ships and their builders. Some times I toss tools to other builders or let them hitch their boats to mine. Sometimes I hand them the wrong thing or accidentally knock them off course but I do my best to be steady and stable when they need me.
The sea though, the sea has gotten infinitely bigger. The storms I encounter are stronger, they are more dangerous, they matter so much more. Occasionally (read often) I steer right into them. My boat is tough, my sails are bold, I chose the direction I sail based on gut and experience but still the journey is rough.
Sometimes I think about an island. I think about my boat docked in the sun. I think of tans and drinks with umbrellas and naps. I cry at the idea of ease. I cry thinking of sailing being easy. I cry thinking of port and sun and tans.
Then, seeing a storm, I steer directly into it. It is where I am most needed so it is where I go. Sometimes I cry in the storm, too but I know. I know there wasn’t another choice.*