Sunday, November 6, 2011

One More Mile

Well, I am officially a believer of at least one of the "first year teacher myths" I heard before I started teaching.  You really do catch all the kids' germs.  And your poor, unsuspecting immune system has no idea how to fight off the onslaught of adolescent cooties, so you're bound to experience sickness on a whole new level.  For the second time in less than a month, I've fallen prey to the cold/allergy/stuffy head/can't breathe symptoms of some mysterious, nameless disease that requires antibiotics.  Thank God for health insurance.  I'm hoping I feel better tomorrow.  We shall see...

Before the germs attacked, I got to experience two great things this past week.

#1 - I went to the Arkansas Curriculum Conference on Thursday and Friday.  This meant that a) The children and I got two days apart, b) I got to see lots of people from college and other "teacher friends," and c) I got to hear Christopher Paul Curtis, a young adult author, talk about his writing process and read his work.  As an aspiring writer, or at least as someone who would rather write than pay a therapist, I loved every minute of hearing him speak.  Curtis writes from very personal experience and from a deeply rooted love of family.  It was absolutely breathtaking and inspiring to have him share so much of himself with his audience. Yes, I'm kind of a nerd, and yes, I loved every minute of those two days.  I was starting to feel bogged down at school, and I needed to learn some new tricks to reenergize myself for these next few weeks leading up to Christmas.  I have a feeling I'm going to need LOTS of tricks up my sleeve to keep the kids' attention with Santa Claus coming to town.

#2 - I ran another 5K on Saturday and dropped my time by four minutes.  My goal was to drop it by two minutes, so I was pretty excited.  However, I loved this event for a different reason.  In my last post, I talked about one of my 6th grade students who loves to run.  After parent/teacher conferences, this student came up to be at my desk one day and asked me to write down the dates of the next few 5Ks that I was running.  I wrote them down, thinking that he probably wouldn't be able to make it to all of them, especially not the first one on the list, which was an hour away from his house.  But not long after we checked in Saturday morning, I heard a familiar voice behind me say "Ms. Herring!"

Sure enough, there he was, with his whole family, ready to run.  I met his mom, dad, and sister, who I hand't had a chance to meet yet, and grandma was there too.  He got to meet my dad & roommate who both came with me to run.  Now when I say this kid is a runner, I mean that he is fast.  We asked him his pace before the race, and he nonchalantly said, "Oh, I don't know.....about 7:30 per mile."  That, ladies and gentleman, is WAY faster than me.  My student ended up winning the whole race.  My dad came in 2nd right behind him.  Dad tried to tie him, but he said the kid looked at him with this sneaky smile and took off at the end.  No way was he going to let anyone even get close to him.  After they finished, they both ran back to me and ran in again.  My student said, "Hey, Ms. Herring, there's a little girl right behind you that's probably gonna beat you.  You better hurry up."  He was loving every minute of being better than me.  He even posted a picture of us on Facebook later.  The caption says: "I beat my English teacher."  I was more than happy to let him win.  It actually made my day.

Racing on Saturday was a fun way to get to know my student and his family, but it also made me think about my life in the classroom.  When I run, I often tell myself, "one more mile, Jess!"  I feel like these last few weeks until Christmas are my "one more mile" at school.  Sure, there's another semester in the spring, but we'll consider Christmas break our "water stop" in this race.  I gave the first leg of the race everything I had, and I need to make sure I've conserved some energy for that last mile.  I want to set my best pace now.   So here we go!  Two weeks until Thanksgiving, and then three and a half until Christmas -- I think this is definitely a race I can win.

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