Friday, October 12, 2012

Personal Development Days

A (Big) Apple for the Teacher
There's a story I need to tell you.  Please - pull up a chair, hunker down, and hear the tale.

So things have been going well here at the Nest.  Life is full and maybe a little overly busy, but it's with Good Stuff.  My classes are up and running and seem to be going well - that includes my online one which has its own set of challenges as I try to get students to interact with the material and with each other - the Breaking Bad book is chugging along, and I'm working to throw a conference in June that seems to be mushrooming into something a little bigger than I had originally envisioned.  FryDaddy and I are getting a handle on the commuter marriage/grad school situation, as well.

That's a lot of plates to spin.

In late September, I worked and worked to get my classes prepped for the couple of days my classes wouldn't meet due to a conference I was presenting at in Nashville but still felt I needed to check in while I was gone.  Now my students are full-growed adults; not fragile baby pandas, and I know I have tendencies to "helicopter teach" sometimes.  But that's only because I want them to do well, right?

Envision the scene, if you will.  My loving, handsome, funny, and talented husband and I are in this luxurious hotel for the conference (seriously - robes and slippers, twice-a-day maid service, and an espresso machine on every floor in case you ran out of coffee.  Country mouse was in high cotton, indeed!). Nashville is a majorly fun city - for one thing, they have the world's only full-scale model of the complete Parthenon (not even Athens has that!), complete with 42-foot-high Athena covered in eight pounds of beaten gold.  We're seeing old friends and promoting "Joss In June" and perusing book tables.  Only I'm also madly checking e-mail and Blackboard morning and night, even though I'd told students I'd check in only once a day.

See, I'm that indispensable.

In the middle of this, my sister calls.  My lovely, accomplished sister who never calls.  (We get along just fine, we just don't usually talk much outside of family functions.  I'm very busy, you know.)  In my family, there's a tradition that the grandchildren plan a special trip with my mom (their grandmother, so it's called the "grandmommie trip") when they turn ten. These trips sometimes take a while to plan, and my niece is quite a bit past ten. She finally settled on New York City as the destination. "Right, uh-huh," I say, all the while looking over at the laptop screen.  They're going to go over Veterans' Day, because the school system has that Monday off.  "Yeah, sure," I mutter.  They want me to go.

"Go?  To New York? But I have school that Monday! I can't miss that.  I mean, I'd like to, but, but, but . . . I'll have to call you back."

I am, on occasion, about a thick as a brick.

Readers, it took me two days to figure this out.  TWO DAYS.  Bless his heart, FryDaddy let me suss this one out on my own, although after I explained my non-dilemma dilemma, he looked at me as if I was something that people ought to be paying two bits for a gander at inside a tent at the carnival sideshow.

This is how it is:  My mother is in her mid-seventies, quite capable of making and enjoying such a trip, but the future is always uncertain.  My sister and I finally get along well, after a childhood of thinking the other was a complete pest.  My niece is just about to hit the age where she doesn't want to have much of anything to do with adults of any stripe, much less the ones she's related to.

A trip with just the four of us - my mother, my sister, my niece, and me - to New York.  Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Broadway show, Museum of Modern Art, etc.  And it took me two days to figure this out?  Sheesh.

It seems that maybe I ought to switch which side of the desk I'm on sometimes.  With my job, we're expected to rack up a certain number of "professional development" hours each year - generally in the form of workshops and seminars that enhance our skills in the classroom.  I've decided I need to have a few personal development hours as well - time devoted to enhancing my skills as a human being.  From what I see in this little episode, I probably need to start in the remedial classes, but that's okay - at least I'm starting.

I called my sister back.  We fly out on that Friday.

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