Coming back and catching up

I haven’t journaled since November–most any time I had something to say, I felt like it was shallow to talk about anything other than the state of our country. Problem is that others are much more eloquent than me–I really don’t have anything to say about it that someone else can’t, and hasn’t, said better.

But I think that writing is good for me, so I’m writing today as a structure, CBT-style therapeutic exercise in (1) acknowledging things that I’ve accomplished or done since I last wrote that are an improvement from old behaviors  and (2) naming some of the things that I’d like to change or do differently.  I went to the beach today with a pad of paper and pen, and I sketched this out. I’m dividing the “realms” of my life into categories: work, family, social life (friendships/dating), and health (physical/mental/spiritual). Okay, here goes:

WORK

Things I have accomplished or improved upon:

  • I definitely accomplished my 2016-2017 goals of having better relationships with parents through higher-quality communication. I’m a little phone-phobic, and I’m not good on the spot, so I mainly communicate via email. I did a decent job of giving myself time if needed before responding to unhappy parents, I tried to breathe through any feelings of defensiveness or taking it personally, and I made sure to overtly express empathy and positive regard for the student.
  • This wasn’t a goal, but as the year went on, I kept a closer watch on how students were doing throughout the quarter. I reminded students much more than I usually do what they needed to do in order to get a good grade (“Suzy, you have 1 lesson to make up. Here’s a pass for Self Help tomorrow–that’ll catch you up”), and I tried to look at the big picture and even negotiate with students (if they missed a lesson when we were doing a lot of work to prepare for a particular test, and they got 100 on the test, then I’d just exempt them from making it up). It sounds like a big “duh,” but in past years I’ve just had way too many students to keep on top of that so individually.
  • My other goal for this year was to just kind of stay under the radar, not sass, and minimize being called into the principal’s office. I think I did a pretty good job of this.

Things I want to improve upon/goals for next year:

  • While my communication was better in terms of quality (and somewhat better in terms of quantity),  I can definitely be more proactive. My principal is still very much in the “make a phone call” camp, and I know that he would prefer that I communicate that way once it’s clear that a parent is upset, and this is a fairly concrete challenge, so…that’s a goal for 2017-2018.
  • I can also update my damn website, put more info up there, and annoy parents with Remind messages. Compared to the above, that’s no big deal
  • I want to get students more involved in reflection and assessment. I haven’t really had internal leaders for a long time, and there has to be something I can do to foster that. I see less and less evidence that students view themselves as stakeholders, and I’d like to find ways (un-artificial as possible) to encourage them to evaluate themselves and the group. I’d gotten complacent about this because I didn’t feel that students were invested in the group, and that didn’t work, so let’s attempt to get them more invested. I’m not nuts about exit tickets, but maybe once in a while. Or maybe a rubric to assess where we are on pieces (that’s the most artificial, but I handle things well in writing and always genuinely enjoy reading through any kind of student feedback). I’ll definitely bring back the old “okay, altos, tell me your strongest and weakest 8 measures of the piece,” or have the sopranos evaluate the altos, etc., etc.

 

FAMILY

Things I have accomplished or improved upon:

  • I’m just going to skip over my daughter altogether in this post. I’m skittish about writing about her–combination of “not wanting to put stuff about my daughter out on the internet” and “I have moments of really thinking I’m fucking up, and I’m afraid of being judged negatively.” I do want to write about her, though, without a name or picture, and everything about her and my relationship with her is overwhelming positively, so it’s solidly in the “good” column.
  • My coparenting relationship with my daughter’s dad continues to be exemplary and I truly feel that he is a friend. He’s trusted me with some of his inner world/vulnerabilities, and I think I’ve communicated my support. Our daughter is very well adjusted to living in two houses, and she sees us chatting and getting along great.
  • I’ve had some nice moments with my ex’s family, and that feels very nice.
  • While I wouldn’t say I have a friendship with my daughter’s stepmom, I have to say that she was a huge help and support for my daughter’s birthday, and I worked up the courage to tell her that.

Things I need to improve upon:

  • I need to talk to my own family of origin more. It’s not complicated at all. Call mom every Sunday. Text or email my brother to see how his job hunt is going. Text or email my sister to ask how she and the kids are. Instead of feeling bad because I only responded mentally to communication, actually respond.
  • I’m still very uptight with my parents. I have this weird defensiveness, and a kneejerk reaction to invalidate what they say (sometimes with a grumpy tone)-especially my mom. I need to listen more and be less of a know-it-all. That’s not measurable or concrete, but I challenge myself to ask more questions or simply say “Oh, I really don’t know about this for sure” instead of just assuming they’re wrong. If I managed to breathe through my defensiveness with parents of students, I can do it with my own parents, right? Right?

 

SOCIAL

Things I have accomplished or improved upon:

  • I kind of got over my obsessive need to make sure I’m wanted somewhere (that probably makes me less wanted) and accepted some “pity invites” (aka, things I was invited to because I was in the room when it was discussed).
  • I actually organized and ran a party in the form of  My Little Pony-themed “girls night” (girls-only just because there were too many kids in my daughter’s class to fit in my house).
  • I made some strides in becoming friends with moms of my daughter’s classmates, even went over to one of their houses for a NYE party. There’s another one who I really want to be friends with (she stayed for the MLP party, and she’s AWESOME), but I’m shy, and our kids aren’t particularly close. She’s having a kids’ party at the end of the month, so I look forward to talking more with her.
  • There have been times in the last school year that I have caught myself mentally complimenting someone, and I challenged myself to work up the courage to actually say it, so I’m chuffed about that. I don’t think I can change my “neutral” facial expression (which is anywhere from “something’s wrong” to “I’m miserable), but I can let people know what I appreciate about them.
  • I’ve been seeing M for two years now. All the positives and things I liked about him are constant. Nothing about that has changed.

Things I need to improve upon:

  • I don’t do a good job of letting friends know I’m thinking of them. I think of them, worry about them, but don’t communicate it either because I’m complacent, or …this is embarrassing, but it’s the truth: because I texted last and don’t want to be a pain.
  • I still don’t go out much
  • I’ve been seeing M for two years now.Nothing about that has changed.

 

HEALTH

Things I have accomplished or improved upon:

  • Physically, I have very little to complain about. I have been back to the gym since late February. I’ve had a couple weeks of very low energy (and maybe only 2 workouts), but I’m in the habit, I’m back.
  • My voice made it through the school year with no major issues! That is wonderful! I don’t know that I own credit to that, but I’ll give it anyway.
  • Mentally, I had a bit of a breakthrough this week that is hard to explain, but the gist is that I talked myself through what was almost a panic attack. It started at the gym, the first workout after my trip out west. I wasn’t out of breath necessarily, but as I breathed, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. So when I started to panic, I reminded myself that a panic attack is often the brain interpreting a different bodily sensation as “threatening,” and I got through it. I was feeling very anxious, restless, and hopeless for a few days, and I talked myself through it. I told myself that it’s the transition from “working” to “summer,” and a little bit of cabin fever from being with a kid who gets emotional and agoraphobic during this transition. It turns out it was also a bad case of PMS–I usually get PMS with no actual period, but my body REALLY wanted to have a period this month.

Things I need to improve upon:

  • Physically: I need to work much harder at the gym. I need to be more engaged (I’ve caught my knees doing this sort of “wobble” thing during squats, and I’m sure I need to correct that) and add more weight, period.
  • Mentally: I haven’t seen my therapist in a while…maybe 6 weeks? I should get the fuck back to therapy. I can bring this for goal-setting.
  • Spiritually: I need to find SOMETHING. Anything. I’m not saying join a church, but I need to believe in something, even if it’s simply my love of the moon. (Seriously, I find comfort in the moon. I can track the cycles of the moon, meditate on goals in the first half of the cycle and letting go in the second half). Chakras, I dunno, whatever. Just: I need to cultivate a belief that there is something bigger than humans.

There, I did it.  I did my own mid-year evaluation. My teacher evaluation may say “highly effective” (or just “effective”–won’t find that out until September), but my life rating is “developing,” and this is a plan for (some) improvement.

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