Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week 75- What IS this thing?

A six week Saturday morning class.  Is that what I agreed to?

It's now week... I don't know what number... and I am still going back.

Soulcraft Woodshop.

How has this journey changed me?

Well, it's hard to say.

In September of 2014, I was working a job at school that I didn't want.  I was told I needed "a break" and basically put into time out.  I was searching for life outside of my career.  I was going home at a normal hour each day and truly only working the 8 hour day.  That was brand new to me after 11 years of working 11-12 hour days.  I was unhappy.  I missed my team.  I missed my students.  I was getting to know new students, but it wasn't enough.  I was searching for something.

Fast forward to March 2015.  I am begging for spring break to get here.  I am still not totally happy in my job, mostly because it just doesn't feel like enough.  I could do more.  I give a lot of assessments.  I follow intervention scripts.  But, I do feel like I am making a difference.  The kids are growing and changing and that's success.  It feels good.  But I am not defined by my career anymore.  I am not defined by my school district.

Being part of Soulcraft has given me some courage.  It's given me even more voice than I had before.  It's helped me hone some of those communication skills that were still less than "diplomatic."  I've met great people, formed some incredible relationships, grown professionally and personally.  I found the thing I was searching for, though I'm still not really sure what that is.

Conversations with Pete, Jim, and Sean are sometimes above me.  I shake my head and hear their words and most days I go back to my car and Google something they were talking about.  I don't always understand their political references or even their references to literature that I have not yet read yet.  The cool thing is, if they know that I am clueless (sometimes), they don't show it.  OR, if I'm particularly brave that day, I ask or say "I don't know what that means."  And they explain it to me.  Hopefully without judgement.  Or it seems like without judgement...

Conversations with Julie and Karen... Ahhhhh... I wish we could all work in the same building.  Strong women.  Empowered women who know who they are and what they stand for.  They don't let others get in the way, and if they do, they reflect and go back.  They put kids first.  They vent. And then they move forward.  WE move forward.  They help me to move forward.

And there's Tom.  Tom and I see eye to eye. And it's just comfortable to be there with Tom.  With all the men who don't appear to be judging my skills as a woodworker or furniture designer or artist at all.  They are there learning too.  "Who knows how to use this machine thingy over here?"  Yeah, I might, and I can show you.

One realization that I have almost weekly is that I don't like to do stuff that I am not good at.  And for my first few projects, I was great.  Realizing now that Pete and Jim had a LOT to do with that skill, I am a little humbled at the fact that in the past three weeks, I have screwed up at least 100 times.  I really messed up those dados.  And I typically would trash them, never speak of them again, start over, and excel at it the next time.  But WOW, I REALLY screwed up those dados.  And I can talk about it. And even laugh.

I'm not good at the measuring.  I'm not good when something needs to be perfectly measured or perfectly symmetrical.  I stand in awe when Jim says something like "well, it's just about 7/16ths."  Again, I was great at math, but in regards to the tape measure, I have no idea what this means.  I smile and nod.  And I don't think he judges the fact that I have no idea what this means.  He probably does realize it though. I'm not so good at the hiding of facial expressions.

So, I've had some time now to really get to know what I'm good at and what I'm not.  And for some reason, I keep coming back to this thing that I am not particularly great at.  I wonder why.

I told someone yesterday, "I'm not sure if I actually like making things out of wood, or if I just like the people here enough to keep coming back, or both."

Courage to be honest.

So this adventure has also given me courage in my own school building.  Last year, I couldn't say or do the right thing to save my life.  This year, I decided that I needed to still stay true to myself and maybe it would work out.  It has.  I had the courage to ask if I could start a Makers' Club.

Makers' Club has taken off like I never knew it would.  As I felt like my job as a reading interventionist was lacking creativity, and I knew that what I was doing on Saturday mornings was meaningful, I wanted to incorporate the two.  On Thursdays, second graders (any who want to on any week) come to my room and make stuff.  Usually I give them a challenge.  Sometimes I give them prizes for fulfilling the challenge.  Second graders are really working on how to share, how to ask for someone to share, how to put their ideas together.  On Fridays, third graders come.  They get a slightly more detailed challenge, and typically blow my mind with what they create.  They are better at sharing, better at working together, and need little assistance in their "design thinking."

After 4 weeks of Makers' Club and close to 75 kids a week going through our room, I've only seen 3 kids cry.  Two cried because their project did not work and they did not have time, before going back to their homeroom class, to fix it.  One cried because no one would share.  I've gotten to use my powers of conversation and behavior skills (ha!) to talk through situations with these 7 and 8 year olds and somehow all three came back the next week.

The principal and other teachers are on board with the Makers' Club AND the PSO even sends volunteers and gave me a budget.

So, how has Soulcraft changed me?

It's given me more courage.

It's broken down on typical gender biases (or barriers) for me.

It's given me a group of friends that I can't wait to see on Saturday mornings.

It's helped my communication skills.

It's opened my eyes to learning again.  To starting over.  To failing.  To doing stuff you aren't good at.

It's.... well.... stay tuned. Because I am sure there will be more.

P.S. I am purposely not proofreading this and just pressing publish.  I want this to be honest and open and not rethink everything I just typed.  Please forgive any typos.  Yikes... Here goes...