Teaching in Mismatched Shoes

I was out and about running errands late Wednesday afternoon. I stamped the snow off my feet before stepping inside, set my bags down, shed my outer wear, bent down and untied my shoes, slipped my feet out, reached down to pick them up and put them away in the closet, and then finally looked at the shoes. Good grief. Well isn’t that the way it goes some days?

I work from home, teaching prospective teachers in an hybrid/online program. Mondays are for grading assignments from the previous week (everything is always due on Sundays). After a long day and part of an evening, I provided feedback to students on half the assignments I had hoped to review. Tuesday, was spent completing a months-long project of writing a self-study for my department that was due Wednesday to the Professional Education Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB). It’s pronounced Pellsbee. Roll’s off the tongue, no? I wished they were the Professional Education Board of Licensing and Standards (PEBLS), but I guess the legislature didn’t have a sense of humor about such things. In my head, I’m sticking with hearing “pebbles” which is much more satisfying to say. The self-study is due no less than 60 days prior to the pebbles site visit or the visit must be rescheduled, which could result in the program no longer being authorized by the state of MN. It must be delivered by Wednesday February 6.

Anyway, pushing the timeline for delivering the self-study, I planned to hand-deliver a flash drive containing the report and all other attached documents Tuesday afternoon. After making the last edits sent by my colleagues that morning and attending a remote meeting, I had time for a quick lunch before the 50 mile drive to St. Paul. A little snow was forecast, but not much, and it was for later in the day. No problem. The snow started at noon. Hmmm, it’s really coming down. This may not be a good plan. Okay, instead, I could get some more grading done and deliver the self-study on Wednesday morning, hours under the deadline. By 5:00 pm we had twelve inches of snow. Good decision to not drive to St. Paul that afternoon, but wait until Wednesday morning instead.

It was 4:00 Wednesday by the time I made my way up and back to St. Paul (still quite a few poorly cleared roads and streets), attended a couple of meetings remotely and ran an errand to the drug store when I discover my mismatched shoes. I still had grading and prep work to do, but I did deliver the self-study. That was a weight lifted until an email from Pebbles informed me a required list of all evidence aligned to the teaching standards was missing. Alright, so 9:00 pm and said list is completed and sent via email. That’s the way teaching goes. Some days you find you are wearing mismatched shoes.

Many of my students are already teaching while finishing their license coursework. There is a K-12 teacher shortage (especially in rural schools) so many districts are hiring “non-traditional” students changing careers before they complete a teacher license program. Every week, my students discover that things do not always go as planned in this job. Kids are sick, snow days (yippee!) interrupt plans, thirty-five to forty students are squeezed into a room designed for thirty, some students are hungry and maybe even homeless, teaching days are lost to test prep and test taking, and so on. That’s the deal as a public school teacher. Whoever shows up they teach that day. Whoever shows up they care for. Despite all their days with “mismatched shoes” of one kind or another, they teach anyway.

Now, it’s early Thursday morning and today—today—I’ll get back to attending to my students and get that grading done and get assignments for next week posted online. It has to get done because this afternoon I start prep for my first colonoscopy. My mismatched shoe adventure was to the drug store to get what I needed because I had to have it to do today’s prep for the Friday morning colonoscopy, otherwise I’d have to reschedule the colonoscopy. I turn 51 in a week and you’re supposed to get your first colonoscopy when you’re 50. So this too, I’m getting in just under the wire. I’m actually not a procrastinator. I hate being late and completing tasks at the last minute. So, it’s been stressful not having that self-study done until the last possible day and then having to rush to the store at the last minute and prep for the “invasion.” But really, you can’t blame a guy for procrastinating such things can you? Now, I’m not saying the self-study and site visit is like a colonoscopy…

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