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Progress Report

May 12, 2014

It’s late April, and many of my teacher friends spent the weekend writing their last mid-quarter progress reports for the year.  While I can’t honestly say, “I miss writing comments,” I decided to join them and write one for myself to ensure that I make the most of the last two months of the school year.  I had three goals when I began my sabbatical: 1) spend quality time with family, 2) develop professionally and stoke my passion for teaching history and academic skills in the classroom, and 3) train for Ironman Mont Tremblant while raising money for Franciscan Hospital for Children.

Goal 1: Family Time

For the past six years,I tried to balance my duties as a father and my obligations as a teacher and admission officer.  The long hours and weekends devoted to increasing enrollment and late nights grading papers took away from being truly present as a father and husband.  During the school year, I spent more time with my students than I did my own kids.  So, last spring, as I contemplated putting down my grade book and putting on my plaid shirt, (think Michael Keaton), I asked myself the following question: How would my own life have been different if my dad had taken a year off from selling cars to spend more time with me?

Being more present and making a difference in the lives of my three children were the primary reasons for taking a year off.  So, it’s gratifying that the best part of this sabbatical has been the opportunity to play the role of Mr. Mom.  Time spent playing catch in the afternoons, traveling to new places on the weekends and creating new traditions like making pancakes together on Friday mornings, has strengthened our relationships.  Now, instead of calling out for Mom in the middle of the night, they sometimes come to me when they need help.  The extra time and flexibility has been a godsend as my younger son continues to recover from Guillain-Barre syndrome, and it would be next to impossible to get him to his twice-weekly therapies if both my wife and I were teaching full-time. It’s also been rewarding to spend quality time with Heidi, and not being so caught up in admission numbers means I’m more present.  Working in admissions was incredibly stressful, and it lead to a lot of tense Sunday nights as I prepped for a busy week.  Last Sunday night, instead of worrying about the week ahead, I played with my kids on the quad, came home and gave Kate a bath, and finished off the evening with family meeting.  A pretty nice way to end the weekend.  I am blessed to have an incredibly supportive wife who encouraged me to take this year off.  Thank you Heidi.

Goal 2: Professional Development

I continue to thrive and develop professionally, as I participate in Twitter chats, write my blog, and read articles about various topics.  Last week, I wrote a guest blog about how writing my blog will impact my teaching in the future.  I participated in three Twitter chats and learned more about grading policies, history projects, and Genius Hour.  I am enjoying a book on developing executive functioning skills and had the opportunity to put those new strategies into action when I subbed at Beaver Country Day last week by helping a sixth grader come up with a more effective system to organize his papers.  Last Friday, a few students even stopped by to say, “Good morning!” and told me they were glad their teacher was sick so I could come in again. Working as a substitute has been incredibly rewarding and validates my decision to leave admissions and move back to the classroom.

Goal 3: Training for Ironman Mont Tremblant and raising money for Franciscan Hospital for Children

More than nine years ago, my son fell out of a third story window.  While he has recovered, the tenth anniversary of this life changing moment is coming up this September.  As a way of celebrating his recovery and thanking all those who helped him, I committed myself to raising money for Franciscan Hospital for Children where he spent three months learning how to walk, talk, and speak again.  I choose to compete in an Ironman and specifically selected Mont Tremblant, Canada as the place to do it because I was looking for a race that would symbolize the challenges Jacob and our family has faced and the hard work and perseverance he has shown during his recovery.

I’ve been battling a hip issue that has plagued me for the last 18 months, and the added mileage as I ramp up my training has only made it worse.  Luckily, it looks like the additional work I’ve been doing to strengthen my core is paying off because even after a big increase in training this week, my hip has been pretty much pain free for the first time since 2012.  It’s going to take an incredible amount of effort to make up for lost training time, but with 13 weeks until the race (91 days but who’s counting), I’ve got plenty of time to make it happen.  I’ve been blessed by the help I have received from Central Mass Physical Therapy.  Mike, my physical therapist, has been designing challenging workout routines that don’t exacerbate my painful hip, and the fact that Dan, Mike’s assistant, is training to get his massage certification has been a godsend because his deep tissue massages have broken up a lot of the scar tissue that was causing the pain in my knee and hip (but oh my – how they hurt).  Heidi and I are off to a good start towards reaching our goal of raising $10,000 for Franciscan Hospital for Children, where my son recovered after his traumatic brain injury in 2004 and Guillian Barre syndrome this past winter. The Development Office Franciscan has hired a new development person to oversee the fundraising efforts and to integrate Jacob’s journey into their overall marketing campaign.  We are kicking off our own fundraising this week as our friends sign up for the Franciscan 5K, which will take place on June 14th. (Click here if you would like to register – we’d love to have you join us!)

Reflections

What a gift this year has been!  I have worked with teachers in the past who have gone on sabbatical and I never considered the fact that the experience would be life changing.  Not only has it provided me with the opportunity to spend more time with family and to develop professionally and physically, but I am certain it will change the way I approach school when I decide to return to the classroom.  I didn’t appreciate the gifts that come with being a teacher.  Instead, I often focused more on the difficult and tedious parts, such as grading and writing comments.  Yet, I have really missed teaching full-time this year.  Being a substitute has been rewarding, but I miss having my own students and classroom.  I look forward to being able to build relationships with students and fellow teachers and to have opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the children I am privileged to work with.

 

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From → Sabattical

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