“You must empty your pockets, turn them inside out, and spill out your wife and your son, the pets you hardly knew, and the days you simply missed altogether watching the sunlight fade on the bricks across the way. You must hand over the rainy afternoons, the light on the grass, the moments of play and of simply being. You must give it up, all of it, and by your example teach your children to do the same, and then—because even this is not enough—you must train yourself to believe that this outsourcing of your life is both natural and good. But even so, your soul will not be saved.”
Into the Jaws of the Beast I Shout Joy
After my yearly 2 1/2 month layoff, some spent idleness and some in unpaid work, I went back to work today. I work at Head Start as a teacher. It is an important job, but not always a good job. I am ambivalent about returning to work. I work for under funded, overburdened program, and we have to account for every penny we spend. The budget is usually balanced on the backs of employees who in order to work full time are required to spread themselves so thin you can see through them. I love working with children and families, but hate the paperwork and bean counting. I also need to support my family.
Today was all about the new pieces of paper, which are a surprising improvement over the ones we have been using. That in itself made today not so bad. I got to look over my caseload of 19 families, which is nice this early in the year since we have 4 weeks now to schedule initial home visits. I get to actually meet my students before the first day of class and talk to parents and see what home is like for my students. I have a few families I worked with last year and was pleased to see their names on list.
My plan for this year is to be very intentional and about every aspect of my work, see the connections between the paperwork and the services, and when I am feeling irritated about bureaucracy and small thinking, I will look for alternative ways of accomplishing the tedious tasks which always threaten to overwhelm the joy of the work.
There is always joy in seeing families grow stronger and children develop into students and forming a classroom as a learning community. I get to continue my relationships with returning families and develop new relationships with incoming families. Each new year brings another great adventure because no class or caseload is the same.
This year I resolve not to let the documentation overwhelm the adventure, but this being a review year, many reviewers descend upon our program and see if we deserve the insufficient funds we have been granted) could make that a difficult task as the review process tends to make the most easy going administrator tense and tends to bring out the micromanager in them all. But, I am not going to let that bother me. I locked into joy and adventure. Damn the tedium! Full speed ahead!