Tuesday, July 01, 2014
The Junkyard Formerly Known As My Desk
School is out and summer is in full swing. With graduation coming five weeks ago, the WCS Class of 2014 has entered the real world, well-equipped but facing a multitude of challenges just as their peers across the US will encounter. As I have mentioned in several entries, after a week off, I survived three weeks of basketball camp. I could go through the sequence blindfolded. That comes, like any skill, with successful repetitions. Sounds like coach-speak! School ended as it always does, with commencement leading into the Memorial Day weekend. I pledged myself to a big project to lead into my vacation and I pulled it off but not without a significant commitment of time.
At the end of every Spring semester. all teachers have a check list to comply with before we can leave. Finals graded and recorded; list of room repairs; where to send paycheck in summer if not on automatic deposit; inventories taken and walls cleared. It isn't too difficult- the biggest thing for me is grading the finals. I would guess most schools have a similar system to close down for the summer. I'm pretty sure I got my list signed this May earlier than I ever have. But that doesn't mean I was finished.
I'm trying to rearrange my classroom to make the mural of the life of Jesus painted by our AP art students totally visible- a small portion is obstructed by my desk. To make that feasible, I need to get rid of a filing cabinet and condense my desk and remaining cabinets, moving them to the other side of the room. I started on the Saturday morning after graduation and worked through Memorial Day. I would estimate I spent eight to nine hours in Room 258 sorting through stuff and when I was finished, I had eliminated the need for a very big filing cabinet with plenty of free space remaining. You see, what I've done over the years is simply throw everything that's out into drawers or shelves so I wouldn't have to deal with them. It's been compounded by the fact that for six of the last seven years, I returned to Houston either a day before the beginning of inservice or after it's already started so I'm already behind. Making matters worse, I fall into the category of those teachers who are loathe to discard anything. Let me give you an example. Our 8th grade Bible classes use a 12 episode series made by Focus on the Family called McGee And Me. I inherited the VHS set when I came in 1998 but I haven't used a VCR in years. So I had a twelve tape set of something we will never use again and I already have the DVD version of McGee with duplicates of most episodes...and I'm not quite sure how that happened. I asked permission before I tossed them and I found other numerous VHS sets we have already replaced also sitting there; dumpster as well. Amazing how much room that cleared out. I found extra copies of school annuals that I'm not sure I've ever looked at and old basketball uniforms we haven't worn in years. I found thousands of paper clips and I'm ashamed to say I asked for more from the office this year because I was unaware of their existence. I discovered about five pair of scissors, four staplers, numerous stacks of detentions (haven't given any in several years), old tests, cards from little kids from the death of my father in 2008, and Sarah White's 8th grade picture. To put it in perspective, I preached Sarah's wedding after she had graduated from college..... four years ago.
So, you can see my philosophy as I have carefully developed it. Shove it in a drawer, stick it on a shelf, cover it up with other junk, deal with it later. Except I forgot about most of it and it took years from me to deal with it. It's the academic equivalent of a toothache we ignore and hope it resolves itself but we know it only gets worse and becomes a bigger issue. It's the same thing in our spiritual lives; it might be habits or hobbies, relationships or rituals. We all know in our heart of hearts what drags us down, what trips us up, what minefields litter our path that Jesus said was narrow. We have choices. Hopefully, we won't embrace these traps but some folks give up trying and just go along for the ride. We're more likely to deal with them like I handle my classroom; shove whatever it is into a drawer and shut it and hope it goes away...which it never does. The Scripture encourages a different strategy:
Hebrews 12: 1 says this:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us (NET)
1 Peter 2:1, in the same vein, says this:
So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. (NET)
You know, the stuff in my cabinets wasn't bad, it just was in the way. It was taking space that would make my room a better teaching environment, a better place to teach about Jesus to kids from many countries. I needed to get rid of it, and I did, finally. Now, I'll find out if really can teach. Maybe my students will learn something this year!
Applicable quote of the day:
If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?
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Posted by Steve Hawley at 9:12 PM