The title of this post is in reference to the final set of episodes of David Tennant as The Doctor and given my theme of using movie titles, television episode titles, and song titles – I thought it appropriate.This post is an ongoing multi-post attempt at reflecting on 2020 and looking forward to 2021. You can see the previous years’ attempts here.
Being humble. Practicing Kindness. To seek more than ever before.
Those are the words and phrases that I dedicated to 2020. And they would have been words I worked on throughout the year, and maybe even done a six-month reflection if we hadn’t been kneecapped by the arrival of COVID at the start of March, shuttering our schools and sending us to remote learning through May. It became a mad scramble day to day week to week as the months dragged on. I reflect on that experience in part 1 of this blog series.
As I’ve sat and stewed since my last entry, I’ve wondered if trying to sort out if I was any good at following my words would be helpful in any way. The reality is (as I mentioned in part 1) is that I don’t recall the specifics of the first three months of the year with much accuracy. I know very well what happened from March 13th onwards, and I regaled you with those tales already. Yet, I am a firm believer in reflection, and I would think it a mild betrayal if I was to ignore examining 2020 through the lens of the words. At a minimum, I should give it the old college try.
When it comes to ‘being humble’, I can point to a specific date when I had to reaffirm my belief with that very idea. I wrote a post in August titled, “Know When To Hold ‘Em” in which I accepted the reality that my head and heart had gotten lost on the way to being a good teacher who stayed connected to “The True North” of the education career. That the siren song of getting popular with a podcast, and through social media had succeeded in pulling me away from where I needed to be. That was August, just three months ago. Since that time I’ve done my best to keep my head level and pour my attention into my classes and students. I haven’t been perfect, but I’m self-aware enough to reorient and rededicate my focus. It helps I have a great team in my building who helps keep me honest.
‘Practicing kindness’ is next, and I’ll be honest - I’ve had some letdown moments this year in this department. Between some snark (that I late deleted) on Twitter, and some relational challenges in working with my students I haven’t lived this the way I could, should, and would have done. I don’t have a valid excuse, it was just a failure on my part. I have a chance to rebuild this particular word back into my persona in 2021 and that’s the solace I take - I get to get better at this and make good on doing it right.
I’ve talked about regret in one of my video blogs for December, and it’s within this video and the concepts presented that I’m entering into this next part of the review - ‘to seek more than ever before’ - because I’ve really flopped on this one as a whole. I did little reading outside of school materials, and aside from stumbling onto some rather brilliant Twitter threads, I wasn’t successful in making a dent in this goal for 2020. In some ways, the overwhelming nature of 2020 is a defense. I can’t put into words my emotional and mental status from March to June - it went from being flung off a carrier with no course to floating in an empty expanse wondering if help was ever to come. Trying to find the drive, or energy to read for pleasure in the midst of an ever-changing lockdown made it incredibly hard to pull the horse blinders off and focus on anything but being successful come August. There was fatigue, tiredness, exhaustion - all symptoms of various levels of stress, anxiety, and trauma. The light at the end of the tunnel arrived in July into August, but there wasn’t time to stop and read - it was a bullet train into the next thing while guessing if we’d be getting off at some random train station.
The important thing I’ve found in reflecting on 2020 and the waning days of this year is that I have to find solace in the success when it occurred. That there was good stuff that happened this year in my job, and in my life. That we’ve found ways to make it work, and that I’m still showing up to work ready to take on the day. That I’m not contemplating walking out of the profession forever. That what I do, and the place I am in - it is a worthwhile place to continue teaching, educating, relating, and engaging. That I wake up in the morning, and don’t fight every step of the way to get ready and out the door. That the job is still worth doing. That, as Samwise Gamgee says, there are things worth fighting for in this world.
I’ll leave you with the wise words written by J.R.R. Tolkien from the Lord of the Rings series. This quote is taking me into 2021. My next installment will be the choice of words for 2021, and more!
Sam: “I know. It’s all wrong By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something. Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam? Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” The Lord the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien