Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Leaving a Trail

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
{Ralph Waldo Emerson}

Quite a while ago now I wrote a post about not wanting to go back to work - at least not in the context that work seemed to drum up any time I thought about it too long--which really wasn't very long to be truthful. I had, after all, experienced one of the most fulfilling jobs I could ever have imagined during my career hiatus, the role of a work at home mom. My son has really begun to branch out on his own now, (he just got his license last week) and I can see that it was every minute a worthwhile job to be at home, a job I was very fortunate to have. He is making some good decisions and involved in some healthy activities with some terrific friends.

I have returned to my role as a teacher, now tutoring students one on one. It pays pretty well, though it will never be more than part time - which is actually beautiful to me! I still like being home. I am happy not to rush out the door in the morning, I like being able to run all the errands and do all the chores without feeling overwhelmed. I like being able to walk everyday - that feels like important work in and of itself. I don't get paid to walk of course, but the pay off I get for trekking daily through the forest makes me rich, believe me.

Everyday I report to the local elementary school that my son attended to help a young boy, who is ten. Though I am hired as a tutor for him, and other students, I am not really tutoring in the sense one would think. By the time the students in our school system get a tutor, they have been through the academic and emotional wringer. When I come in, it is no easy problem that can be fixed. Often when I am called, the director of tutoring tells me, "tutoring is being tried as a last resort." Sometimes he tells me it is to "keep the student in school." I cannot, in the daily hour I am allotted with the students, change their habits drastically, bring them up to grade level in the subjects they are behind in (I am teaching my current student three subjects in less than an hour, as we always spend a good 5 minutes locating a spot to work in.) However, what I can do for this student (and the others) is give him something he rarely gets in his school day, sustained individual attention. I can listen while he talks to me for much of the hour, and if I am lucky enough we both come away learning a thing or two.

Every single day my job is unpredictable, every single day brings with it immense challenges, some days we literally bounce off the walls (for real, we found that the art room was free on Fridays and the teacher keeps 2 large balls with handles in there!) And this is where I know I do my very best work, the work I was meant to do. Because, the road to learning is not straightforward, it is windy and bumpy and, well, bouncy. The path of education is often strewn with obstacles, that, if we take the actual time to examine them, piece by messy piece, we can  find truth and meaning, beyond our expectations. You see when I wrote the post about not wanting to work I did not imagine getting paid to bounce around in a room full of art on a Friday was an option. (Don't worry, we study best this way. Last Friday we got metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary rocks down while bouncing.) Ah, but being an observer of dreams I should have known that this job existed and was waiting for me all along. I could not love it more. The challenge is simply to make sure each day I blaze the trail! In a way, work is like a walk.