The woman behind the airline counter gave me the teacher glare--the one you give the student without his homework when you're going around to collect it after giving directions multiple times to have it out. She needed proof of my return ticket from Peru, and I was having trouble pulling it up on slow airport WiFi using an old travel phone. I cringed inwardly as my email loaded ever so slowly, and made a mental note to save some students the embarrassment and work on retiring my teacher glare for next year.
I am spending a month in Peru this summer relaxing, unwinding, and exploring. I am reteaching my body how to sleep in, and reminding myself what it feels like to think only of myself instead of spending most of my time and energy thinking about, talking about, and planning for 102 children.
But in a way, it's also professional development of the most immersive kind. I find that during the school year I tend to fall into comfortable habits, but pushing myself outside of my comfort zone helps me to empathize with how some of my kids feel when they walk into a classroom that forces them to work on the things that are hardest for them every day. It reminds me to be patient with my ELLs when I have to ask the Spanish speaking receptionist to repeat herself, and to be understanding with my kids' mistakes when I bring the wrong travel adapter. And it gives value to my words when I ask my students to push themselves and take risks, because they see me continuing to do the same.
I am meeting a few of my close friends to hike the Inca Trail in a few weeks--one of which is also a KIPP teacher. We work in different schools, teach different grades and different subjects, but working at KIPP makes us more similar than different. We will be climbing the mountain to and through Peru the same as we climb the mountains in our classrooms: with grit, flexibility, hard work, and zest.