Thursday, May 19, 2011

Serving Time

"I'll be home late tonight. I have detention". The first few times I found myself saying this to my children this year, I understandably received a couple of funny looks. They snickered and smirked, realizing I meant that I was proctoring detention for the afternoon, a rotating assignment shared by a small group of teachers who don't mind earning a little extra pay and keeping track of a few students who are dealing with the consequences of a poor decision or two.

Although I have had one or two fidgety students at detention over the past year, overall, the students are well behaved and enter the room with homework or a book to read for the two hours they are serving. I'm typically able to correct papers, plan lessons, or straighten my teaching materials during that time and I actually look forward to having the excuse to remain at work a little longer so as to make further progress on my teaching "To Do list". I have always enjoyed a quiet atmosphere and the peacefulness of the upstairs hallway at this time of day is conducive to focus and attention.

Being the youngest of five children, with four older siblings who were out of the house by the time I entered middle school, I never had to fight for a quiet spot to study in my home when I was younger. When I went to college, I was quick to get myself a "single" dorm room after having a rough semester with a roommate who was a decent person but who was not a good match for me. I've always needed time to be in a calm, serene environment and when I am not, I go looking for an oasis. At home, I retreat to my bedroom or go out on the deck. At school, I shut my door during my prep periods. At camp when a lot of company arrives, you'll see me making my way to the dock. And if the dock becomes crowded, I'll go for a walk or go kayaking. I definitely become a hermit during my time at camp also and then I feel bad when I realize that I've missed an opportunity to visit with a friend who is in town. It's not that I don't enjoy being with people; I certainly do, however the introvert in me knows that I maintain my energy and enjoyment of spending time with others by making time for solitude. Being with people constantly is especially draining for me and I need time to replenish my spirit.

So, if I come across as distant or sequestered, I do apologize. I do not mean to keep you at arm's length. I do not mean to be aloof or unapproachable. Dear God, I would hate to be thought of as unapproachable! I admit I do not always appear to be the most friendly of company but I do care. I am sympathetic. I am warm hearted. I even think I'm fun. I enjoy companionship and friendships very much. I simply know that to be at my best I must remove myself from the world of others when I am low on energy.

Today as I looked over at the two upperclassman boys serving their detention, (Yes, it's a small group. That's a good sign for our school this week I think), I saw one boy I know to be a whirlwind of activity, a smart articulate guy who is a constant talker and instigator, but who is generally a good guy. There he sat with his paperback book, a fantasy novel that kept his attention for those two straight hours. In contrast sat the other boy who asked for permission to keep moving as he made a poster before he emptied and then organized his backpack. It was definitely a long two hours for him. But for me and I suspect my novel reading ally, detention brought an excuse to stop, to pause, to think, and to breathe. It gave us time to sit in silence and to refresh all that we have within us that we'll need to do more. Let's just hope he'll stop short of doing whatever brought him to this detention room in the first place!

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