Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Maybe They're Growing Up...

Or maybe their teachers from last year exaggerated a bit to induce a sheer state of panic among teachers on C hall. Either way, I'm pretty proud to be teaching this year's 8th-graders at my school. In fact, after hearing all of the horror stories about what was headed our way, I'm really happy. They're really not so bad. In fact, I like them. A lot.

What makes things a little more difficult is the fact that we are short one teacher on our hall this year. Instead of dividing our students among seven teachers (or even eight as it was my first four years of teaching), we are dividing them among six teachers. I'm on the four-person team, which means I have ninety-nine students this year. Yes, that's ninety-nine. Or one hundred if I have one more student enroll. Let's keep our fingers crossed about that....

In the meantime, I'm still getting to know the ones I do have, and they're still getting to know me and what I will and won't put up with. Which isn't very much since I have a lot of teaching to do this year.

And I think they've just about figured that out. Maybe.

Monday, August 9, 2010

It Was Just One of Those Days...

when expectations and disappointment collided, leaving my hopes dashed and crumpled at my feet. No one likes to think of those two words together, yet invariably, they meet and crash as they did with me last Friday.

Talk about high expectations...! My airline ticket had been purchased months ago and plans had been made to spend the weekend with four of my blog friends. I had never met any of them in person; this meeting, this get-together, would be a first. I even left work early to keep from being late and missing my flight.

But once I got to the airport, I sat and waited and sat and read and sat and chatted for what seemed like forever. There wasn't just one flight delayed due to weather, but several, including an earlier flight to my same destination. And all the time as I sat there, I remained patient. I waited. I watched the hours go by, planes land, passengers disembark. Finally, my plane did arrive. But just as we began boarding, we were told there had been a mechanical malfunction of some sort. They grounded the plane. And while other flights continued to take off right there at my gate, I still had hope. I still had high expectations.

Then there was a new gate and the promise of a plane sitting and waiting for us. Another hour ticked by. More minutes, perhaps a half hour, passed, when finally, I noticed the captain making his way to the desk. He didn't look too good, I thought. He looked off. Tired. I wondered if he just got in from one of those flights full of delays.

And then, more than eight hours after I had arrived, they made the announcement. Our flight was cancelled. The crew had too many hours and couldn't fly. Cancelled. Finished. Over.

Rebooking didn't help. I was politely told that my new flight would land after 9 p.m. on Saturday. The few seats available on other airlines showed promise of an earlier afternoon arrival, yet there were lay-overs and plane changes. Even a four-hour layover before a 50-minute final hop to my destination. And what if I encountered all of this again on my way home... With ninety-nine students waiting in my classroom first thing Monday morning, could I risk it?

Oh, I wanted to keep going. I so wanted to be there with my friends. But by then, I knew it was over. And disappointment got the best of me.

I walked away and found a seat away from the crowd. As I leaned my head against my bag, my tears began to flow. I had been patient, and trusting, and filled with expectant joy all day awaiting this wonderful weekend with friends, only to have my expectations end in such finality.

Then she appeared.... This angel of a person. She came up to me and asked if I was okay. I couldn't speak, of course.... I nodded and managed to tell her that I was fine. "Are you sure," she asked. Yes, I nodded. I'm okay. Really.

And at that moment, it all came into focus. A new perspective had been found. While I was due my disappointment, I couldnt' stop my thoughts from turning to the other people on my flight and the one before it. I thought of the stories I hadn't been told. Of the man dressed in his Navy uniform heading somewhere... home, perhaps, after being away for a long time? To a waiting wife or an ailing mother or father? Who knew what stories each of those passengers held close to his or her heart.

It was at that moment that I had to accept the collision course of expectations and disappointment. I had to tell myself that a greater power was at work, that it just wasn't meant to be. Why? I'll never know. But it happened. And for whatever reason, I knew at 1:30 a.m. that I would not be visiting my friends. I headed to my car and drove home.

I confess that I did check flights again on Saturday morning. Bleary eyed from little sleep, I tried to convince myself that catching another flight and visiting with them for even a few hours would be worth it. From what I could tell from the rates, a rental car would add about $300 to my trip. Gulp. Or it would be a two-hour round trip drive for someone to meet me at the airport. That's when I closed the computer and tiptoed into my daughter's room.

Quietly I slipped into her empty bed and peeked over the blanket, just waiting for her to walk back into the room. And when she did, I smiled at her look of surprise. I was home.

Peggy, Annemarie, Wendy, Julie and I first met several years ago on Scrapblog.com. We continued our friendship on our blogs and joined together last year to share and post reflections on the words we chose for the year.