The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 04 2013

Field Trips and Valid Exhaustion

Day 129: Field trip! My kids have been studying Egypt in Social Studies, so we went to the Massachusetts Museum of Fine Arts to examine the Egyptian collection. Last year, this was a disaster. My group went bonkers.

This year, fortunately, was better. My kids quietly traveled on the T, and patiently listened to a docent explain the ankh symbol and how your ka can come and go through a false door. However, it turns out that even very well-behaved, high-achieving and typically-patient students cannot look at art for more than about 30 minutes before they start to lose it. This year, “lose it” wasn’t anything overt or disrespectful, so much as wandering eyes, sitting down on benches whenever possible, and generally loads of fidgeting. After lunch, I tried to drag my group to the American wing to check out some John Singer Sargent, but by the third bench-flop, it was clearly time to leave.

I don’t fault my kids. They are mostly 11 and 12, and an art museum would have driven me into a stupor at that age as well. Frankly, I spent most of the latter part of the day yawning. I was on my feet all day. I was managing a group of kids all day.

So, consider this a long story to make a short point: I’m tired, and that’s OK. Just like my kids can’t be expected to make it through an art museum for three hours and stay entirely alert, I can’t expect to go to grad school three nights a week plus grade and plan and expect to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all the time.

As we reach tomorrow, and the T-minus 50-day clock starts ticking, the reality is that this year has been long and tiring. I operate a lot of the time as if I have infinite energy, and that’s not possible. I went to bed a little early last night. I’ll do the same tonight.

This can’t be laziness. I’m not, nor will I ever be lazy. I need to keep myself sane and centered, both for me and my kids. You can only stare at art – er, tests to grade – for so long.

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