I made a choice to protect myself, my sanity, my best interests, and in doing so, I hurt a valued friend and colleague. Her friendship, especially one that had a rocky start but blossomed into mutual respect and well, love, has never been more important to me. So… sorrow in no small part but a certain rationalization, too, because, because, because I want to feel better about my actions.

A fellow blogger painted a poignant picture yesterday of two events in her community that underscored how much gets missed. One was a unilateral decision made by an administration that was not conveyed to her and the staff members who would be on the frontlines implementing it. Her frustration and frank disillusionment rang true.

Yesterday an email announcing a schedule change for my lone eighth grade student set me in motion. As I’ve written about many times before, my teaching day begins about the time college-age kids are getting to bed. The announced change, a decision in which I was not included in any way but knew was coming through text and phone with my colleagues across the country, pushed me over the edge.

Basically it meant that I would still be arising by 4 a.m. to teach Monday through Friday, but that my first class, that single student, would be followed by two hours of…nothing. With the decision to go “full day” as opposed to a modified day (class periods 30 minutes rather than 42), my next class would begin at 9:10 PST with my day continuing until noon.

I couldn’t do it, just couldn’t, especially when the student himself had asked me yesterday morning why he couldn’t just do all his classes live streaming, why I was the only class that was being kept one-to-one, face-to-face.

Without talking to my dear friend and colleague first to find out how this would impact her, I wrote to my principal and asked her to call me at her earliest convenience. (If I’m honest, I didn’t want to know, to be dissuaded.) When she did, I made my case, well-aware that though the school’s motto is “Keeping Children First” —I was pleading for me.

I had the student’s question as ammunition should I encounter resistance, but truly, I knew that while the change made sense, it would not be the type of instruction he has been getting from me—akin to private tutoring honestly.

On the other hand, my colleague, my friend, is performing magic every day with an impossible set of restrictions. Had I been teaching with her, under the same constraints, I too would be railing against yet another administrative decision made without any consultation—because I got what I’d asked for: beginning Monday, said student will join my colleague’s eighth grade ELA Class live streaming. And I will be able to sleep in a bit.

It comes at a huge cost though; it will be a troubled sleep. (Last night’s found me buried under a mudslide.) Worst, my friend is upset, with me, with the situation, and I will have to talk with her about my part in her frustration and anger. That’s what I’m doing here, truthfully, apologizing—for how I made her feel.

8 thoughts on “Dreamless”

  1. Patricia, thank you for sharing your heart. We have all been there in some situation that was difficult. We make decisions that aren’t always selfless. Your honesty is appreciated and not easy to admit, as you did here: “(If I’m honest, I didn’t want to know, to be dissuaded.)” Here’s to a great conversation with lots of grace and forgiveness with your friend and colleague.

  2. I know this was not an easy decision for you to make. Much as it may seem you were looking out for yourself, the truth is that you put your student’s needs and wants first. Maybe he felt like he was being singled out and wanted to be part of a group. Hope you and your colleague can have a conversation where you both are honest, and maybe a little hurt, but ultimately have the student’s best interest at heart.

    1. Thanks, Bob. The truth is you may be spot-on about him wanting to be with his peers, even if its virtual.

  3. I have been there. You are obviously so torn by your choices, but grant yourself some grace. You were speaking for your student even when you were speaking for your own sanity. Teacher health is in the best interest of students. I’m sure, your desire to maintain your friendship will save it.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, love “grace,” and for reading. I trust in friendship, too.

  4. There is so much going on here, for you, your student, your colleague & friend….the complications are layered throughout. I feel confident that given your self-reflection and honesty here, your conversation with your friend will be heartfelt. Sometimes when we are at our end, there aren’t many choices remaining; we are simply surviving. (And thank you for reminding me to be as generous with my own administrators who may also be at their ends.)

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