The Road to National Board Certification Part 6: Teaching While Grieving and Learning More About Formatting Than I Ever Wanted to Know

December was probably one of the worst months of my life. I have lived a privileged one in that I had never, up until this month, lost someone near to me due to tragedy.

It’s 7:30 a.m. A green bubble on my phone says, “Missed Call-Dad.” It’s not like him to call me this early, but he’s a man of idiosyncrasies—maybe he bought a Christmas gift for someone and he can’t contain the secret—so I call back. My mom answers (why would she call me on his phone?) She asks me if I’m driving right now. I’m not. The first thought in my head says dad is gone.

She sobs the news, news that I receive in front of a group of high schoolers.  The juxtaposition of it is too much and I make it to the front office.  I learn that I’ve lost the equivalent of an uncle (my dad’s cousin, but more of an uncle to me). Relief washes over me, horrifyingly bittersweet. Not my dad—but my cousin’s.

Collecting everything–thoughts, tissues, breath, I explain what happened to the first person who sees me in the office and then say, “I’ve got to teach in ten minutes.” I decide that I would teach, by God—especially after being absent a day last week due to a cold.

I’ve never had to try to function at school in the immediate shadow of devastation. One of the first things on my mind was “I have to teach today because I don’t have my National Board evidence yet and time is ticking so I’ll suck it up and get through the day.” I open up my laptop in my office and I can’t do anything. I don’t even remember what my first hour is doing.  I’m convinced when my principal pulls me in and begins the ‘now what?’ process of phone calls, buying plane tickets home, somehow contacting my husband who is at work and unable to talk on the phone, that I need to go home.

I feel guilty and angry that my life’s got to eat into what I do for a living—and often. Sickness, death. In an ongoing quest to overcome perfectionism and embrace the screwed-upness of life, this is a lesson in taking care of myself and picking up the pieces when I return to school. And although I’m at school for the next four days before flying home for the funeral, I let teaching take the back-burner. I had to turn my head to the wall often because the tears kept coming at random. Not much comes to mind when I think, what did we do that week? It was a wash. After I came home from the funeral, it was time to wrap up the semester. I was backed-up on getting feedback to students form their final projects, and honestly did not get to treat everyone equally with thorough feedback. And I feel really, really guilty.

I had spurts of productivity in the past couple of weeks with board stuff. One second I think “I’ve got this!” and the next I think “I don’t got this! No way!” I spent half a day figuring out what formatting I should be using for my component two submission. After reading posts on about candidates failing it because they accidentally submitted one blank page instead of their writing and FREAKING OUT about the horror of that feeling (and paying 300 bucks to resubmit!), I am making sure that I cover it all.

Google Slides–Did you know that if you want to print out Google Slides with comments, you can’t? Now you know. Did you also know that if you print out the “handout” version with 4 slides on a page, it will shrink the slides down way more than they need to be (to the point where you need perfect vision to read it) and there’s nothing you can do about it? Now you know. Did you know you can import Google Slides into Powerpoint, but it will pretty much give you no benefits because it’s Powerpoint and basically worthless? Maybe you already knew that.

Dochub–I discovered this because I needed to get around Microsoft Word’s clunkiness. Upload your .doc/x to Google Drive and it will offer to open it through Dochub. It’s basically a cross between Microsoft Paint and a word processor. You can edit PDFs and all that jazz–cool!

Microsoft Word–Did you know that Google Docs won’t let you print out a doc with comments, but Microsoft Word will? Probably its only redeeming quality.

All in all, I have had an unproductive working week at home but a relationally productive week at home. I saw family and friends I haven’t seen in years. I looked at many, many photographs. I sat and watched tv with my sisters and snuggled my dog. I drive home this week to Colorado to spend time with more friends, and I am planning on getting a couple days in (hopefully) at work before we start back. The balance is hard with unstructured vacation time, but I’m thankful for it.

Amidst that, I started studying for the GRE. I am crazy. Goodnight.







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