I work with a wonderful, creative, kind and thoughtful woman; she is a bit quirky, but that’s one of the things I like best about her. Today I came outside actually leaving work several minutes after an all call announcement was being made about someone blocking in someone else in the parking lot, please move your car.
My friend was there and so frustrated and upset, she had someplace to be and could not back out of her space. She was parked front in towards a snowbank, with another snowbank on the passenger side of her car. The second car had pulled up behind her as though parallel parking but left a wide 2/3rds car length space behind her.
I asked her if she would let me get her out of the space. I am a pretty good driver and I felt very confident that I could do it. So I hopped in and then essentially did a reverse of a parallel park pulling her car along side the other car backing only at a slight angle out of the space she was in.
That is when I saw her problem. And when she did too. Oh MY GOD she said, I feel so stupid! Why? I said, it was no big deal. I know she said but I was trying to back the car into that space, trying to pull it in between the two cars at a right angle! Well no wonder you couldn’t, I said, I wouldn’t have been able to back around that much into that space either. It just never occurred to me to try to pull alongside the other car!, she exclaimed.
Teaching right now is enormously stressful, all the reforms have been thrown at us like a deck of cards in a game of 52 pick up, only every time we start to pick up the cards, they tell us to drop them all and pick them up in a new order, or in a different way. Its been horrible. It isn’t just that, she is in a room this year that has been very intense with children who are emotionally disturbed, we educate all children, even the ones who might be better served in a setting equipped to handle the kind of deep mental problems that these sweet, troubled little babies are already carrying. On top of that our school has also experience a huge transition, new principal, vice principal, reading specialist, math specialist, lead secretary and custodian! The deep core of the school has completely been altered!
She has mentioned more than once that she is thinking of quitting and finding a job which is less stressful, she is not the only one, one of my art teacher friends has told me the same, that person also called me late the other night, almost on the verge of tears, asking for help in one of the new procedures that they could not figure out. A long term master teacher in our building said that she is okay if the district fires her via the new evaluation system, she would rather collect unemployment and not have to deal with this tremendous amount of stress. We are overwhelmed, and the reforms seem at times to be nonsense, to be like a trip through Wonderland, as though a person who has never spent a day in a classroom randomly decided these things without actually considering what a real live teacher might actually find practical, practicable. Either way, today, my friend was suffering from what so many teachers have suffered this year, complete and utter brain freeze, and mental burn out.
So as I drove away I thought about this notion, that sometimes, when you are stuck, and you are frustrated, and can no longer figure out what to do to get yourself out of that stuck place, all you need is some new perspective, maybe it comes from another person, maybe it comes from walking away and then coming back and re-examining the situation. At an rate, our frustration may keep us from seeing some new reality, from seeing that our reality may not be the ONLY reality. Maybe one person’s solution to a problem, is literally not the way to solve the problem at all.
I loved this lesson. LOVED it!