Saturday, March 21, 2009

The R.M.S. Titanic & My Life

As I was growing up I had a love for, and still do, studying the R.M.S. Titanic. That was the world’s largest ship, in 1912, which ran into an iceberg and sank in the middle of the ocean causing a massive loss of life due to the lack of lifeboats. Well the main problem with this ship and its mighty collapse was not the fact that it was built well, because for the most part (an historians probably disagree with me here) it was, but rather that they ran into an iceberg. Icebergs are unique things only displaying about twenty to twenty-five percent of their mass above the water line. That being said, there is so much more under the surface, hence why the Titanic sank, but it is the same way with people in my life.

In the Language Arts office for the past few weeks it has been really awkward at times – specifically between Anne and me. For some reason, because we both have had writing conferences and she is always busy at work, which is a good thing I think you need to be, but we have had some awkward moments where I have not gotten a chance to run my lesson plans by Anne or after school we have not gotten to debrief. Then when I left to go to Iowa (look at the next couple of posts here) there was a lot of tension about me not getting things to her on time and not following through on other things that I said or wrote that I would do (which are both completely my fault). Basically what I am getting at is that there was a little bit of a miscommunication and a time of awkwardness between us. Honestly, at times it did really upset me because I struggled with the fact that I was not doing the right things or that I was not making her happy (which I know is not the end all in life, but in student teaching at that time it seemed like it), but it was mainly me just stressed out and getting upset about things that were going on at school. I could have taken the initiative and gone over to Anne’s desk and approached her about my stuff, but at the same time I did not feel like that was ok for some reason. So as I left Colorado and went back to school I was frustrated with the situation and mainly with me – because it was my fault and no one else’s.

Although, then as I sat on the plane heading back to my home away from home, to Wartburg College, I started thinking about something that Kristin, my other cooperating teacher, told me before I left. She said, “Randon, remember that Anne has a lot going on in her life and she is a little stressed out right now.” That’s when it hit me – I was making the same mistake that the Titanic did. I was totally discounting everything under the surface, the other 75 percent of Anne’s life. Not only is Anne an amazing teacher, but she is planning a wedding, trying to finish graduate school, being a mother, and a whole host of other things that I do not even know about.

So I was taking her disappointment with me at face value, which at some point was true – she was upset and disappointed with me – but at the same time, she has a lot of stress in her life and I needed to take that into account too. That is not to say that like Anne, I think we all only see part of the person we are working with. I mean I am student teaching, working for Wartburg in a number of capacities, volunteering with the women’s soccer team, completing three other college courses, planning multiple events in Iowa from Colorado, trying to maintain relationships in Iowa, living here in Colorado by myself for the first time, trying to find a job, consulting with other school districts about their technology use, and doing all the other things that I am trying to do all at once.

What we see or know on the surface is probably like 25 percent of the person. I needed to start taking that into account with Anne and being a little more patient with her and understanding that how busy I am and the stressors in my life are very similar to Anne’s. She was upset at me for a good reason, but at the same time I need to understand that in everyone’s life there is a lot more that does not meet the eye.

I think that I knew this before, but now it has been a realization that makes sense and is something that I can apply to my life in tangible ways. So the past few days I have been patient and waited, and Anne and I have had some good conversations about teaching.
The mistake on the Titanic caused a massive loss of life, and this mistake by me caused a minor rift in my relationship with Anne that I think is on the way to healing.