Monday, August 30, 2010

Lonely at The Middle

I'm far from "The Top," but I wonder if I have a little insight into why it may be lonely there.  It's not for the reason I expected.

I feel a new sense of loneliness as an element in my job.  I expected that I would not be able to share all of my thoughts with my teacher friends at work as an administrator because I would know things not to be shared.  I am prepared for relations to change because my role is different.  How they will change I will not know for a while.  The beginning of a school year is too busy in any role to be exceedingly social.

The lonely feeling I have found already is the result of contemplation and mental processing.  As a teacher, in an entire academic year I may learn of a student that I have with personal or family issues.  A couple of students at most. I may deal with a couple of unhappy parents or know of a conflict with a teacher.  That's when I had less than 200 students, their parents, and many colleagues in a year to interact with to any significant degree.  Now, there are well in excess of 1,000 students to concern myself with.  That's a lot of parents.  All of the teachers are now professionals whom I deal with as such and not just coworkers with whom I socialize or collaborate with.  In just two weeks I have had serious conversations with several students and teachers.  In just two weeks I have had to process significant concerns of multiple students, and to a far lesser extent, teachers.  For comparison, in 8 years as a teacher I have rarely received the email that lets teachers of a particular student know to be aware that a major tragedy has struck the family of a student in that teacher's class. Now I have written that email and it is no easy task, no standard human response, to think of the facts in a students tragedy solely as logistics.  I find my capacity of compassion used on a regular basis.  For each significant case, I am aware of these human lives so important and I know that I have the opportunity to make a positive, detrimental, or neglectful impact.  These are real people dealing with very real circumstances from death of a parent to feeling as though he or she can not learn or feeling as though he or she has a problem with another and lacks the tools to deal with the problem.

Everyone of these humans deserves my attention and I am not overtaxed in my ability to provide as much as I currently know how to give.  But with each situation of such caliber, I require an amount of energy and quiet to process for myself.  I do have friends and family and colleagues who laugh with me and joke with me, listen to me and allow me to listen to them.  The loneliness comes from the additional need to sit quiet in my mind while I process the death of a parent, the stress of knowing not what to do, the clash of home life and school life, the culture shock of middle school versus elementary school, and much more.  I am not lonely in a physical way.  Yet, I feel lonely more often as I spend time more often weighing situations not mine, deciding how best I can be human in return, and processing those thoughts, feelings, and emotions after each situation.

And so, even with excellent friends and family, it is a bit lonely in "The Middle."

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