This school year hasn’t gone as planned.
Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t gone badly. My classes are good and well-behaved (for the most part), and the students seem to respond well to my style. Yet I haven’t been able to try any of the new things I envisioned for the year.
Part of the problem is that I’m at a new school. In some ways, I feel like a brand-new teacher again. The norms and values of the school as a whole are very different from my previous workplace. At my old workplace, there were a lot of passionate teachers. There were also, unfortunately, a lot of people who shouldn’t even be in the teaching profession. At my current job, the faculty seems good overall, but they don’t necessarily seem passionate. There are some people that I think may not even like kids.
They aren’t bad teachers, though, necessarily. Yet it’s still a very different dynamic than what I am accustomed to. At my previous workplace, differentiated instruction was really pushed (some might say “crammed down our throats”). New ideas were always being presented and tested out. I have lectured more at this new job than I’ve ever lectured before. I mentioned to my fellow subject matter teacher the other day that I thought we should have the kids do more projects. They appeared aghast at the idea.
I keep telling myself, “Maybe next year”. But what about this year? It hasn’t been bad, but I don’t know that I’ve grown much either. I’ve wanted to set up a Moodle all year and have gotten absolutely nowhere. The teachers here don’t seem very interested in trying new things, so I haven’t been able to get much tech support, either.
I’m frustrated. I’m lonely. I know no one likes a new person who comes in and starts changing things dramatically, and I understand and respect that. But when does that end?
My father passed away recently on December 14, 2010. It was fast, but not completely unexpected. He had a few chronic health issues and was diagnosed at the start of November with squamous cell carcinoma on his neck. After Thanksgiving, his respiratory system failed which led to his passing.
I digress. The point of this post isn’t to talk about my father (though he was an amazing person, and I’m sure I’ll write about that soon), but rather to share my experiences surrounding his illness and death.
I’ve discovered that such events can bring out the best and, unfortunately, the worst in people. It seems that some people also simply don’t know how they should act or what they should do under such circumstances. Without further ado, here’s my simple “dos and don’ts” list for chronic illness/death/funerals.
- Send a sympathy card.
- Send flowers to the funeral and/or family of the deceased.
- Visit the patient in the hospital (even if they are unconscious and unaware of what’s going on). The family will appreciate it even if the patient doesn’t know you are there.
- Offer to bring meals to the family.
- Don’t offer to bring meals. Just bring meals regardless.
- Say nice things about the ill/deceased when appropriate.
- Tell funny/nice/cool stories about the ill/deceased.
- Show up when a family member says, “It’s not looking good. You need to come this weekend.”
- Keep the person and their family in your thoughts and/or prayers. Even better, say a prayer with the family or the ill person.
- Show your support by showing up at the wake (viewing) and/or the funeral. Sign the guestbook. Even if you don’t know the deceased but know one of the family members, show up anyway. Even if you haven’t seen the person in years, but they were special to you, show up.
- Fail to show up to visit the ill person in the hospital but then arrive for the funeral (if you can help it–of course, due to distance and other circumstances this is sometimes unavoidable). If you could’ve come to see the person in the hospital and didn’t, then why come to the funeral? You didn’t care enough to see them when they were alive.
- Speak ill of the ill/deceased. This should seem like a no-brainer, but I had one person tell me after my father passed, “I always kind of liked that he was a social deviant”.
- Go up to the spouse after their loved one has passed and say, “Well, you’re a widow(er) now”.
- Criticize or critique the homes/possessions of family members of the deceased if you happen to be at their home after the funeral. It’s impolite to say, “Your house is much bigger than your sister’s.”
- Send a Christmas card to the family of the deceased if you haven’t sent your condolences in some way.