What makes you feel you?
I was seriously injured 7 years ago while breaking up a fight between rival gang members in the basement cafeteria of the school I've worked at for the last 26 years. I slipped 4 consecutive discs in my lumbar and I've never been the same. I worked through serious pain for the next three years and then I worked on powerful pain medication for the next three years until I lost my pain meds because of the opiod panic. Because others chose to abuse the meds, I, who have never abused any substance, lost my link to what helped me lead a somewhat normal life. I have now been on sick leave for a year while my accidental disability paperwork works it's way through the system. In the last 12 months, I've only felt myself a handful of times.
My father was a teacher and a school administrator for 40 years and one of my brothers is also a career educator (I also have an uncle who was President of Fitchburg State College for over 20 years and many of my cousins are also educators), so I guess teaching is in my blood. I spent my entire career working with the ""at-risk" population, the kids that made poor choices both in and out of school, gang members, drug abusers, school age parents, drop out returnees, and many other histories. I loved every minute of teaching and it showed as I was voted best teacher 9 out of the first 10 years and then the school chose to drop that particular superlative. I ran trials and other projects and kids that never did anything in school were showing up early and staying late. I empowered students by making them test each other in what I called Socratic teaching. One student would sit at a table facing their classmates who were arraigned in a semicircle with their notes and each student would ask the lone student a question and we would go until the student had answered 20 questions and then a new student would move to the table. Who ever heard of high school kids looking forward to testing!!
However, the majority of what I did in class was lecture, not for notes or tests but for understanding. Understanding where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. I've been an avid reader my entire life beginning in the third grade and when I became a teacher I switched to almost exclusively non-fiction. I fully immersed myself in histories and biographies and then "acting out" history. I love being a storyteller and interacting with teens that hated school until they had my class, as so many of them have told me. My room was always ""Switzerland," they could say what they wanted how they wanted. There were countless times that a student would come in and say "I hate that bitch," and I would tell them "Hush" as I went to the door and then, with exaggerated movements of looking left and right down the hallway and then closing the door, turning around and asking, What bitch? It never failed to get a laugh. So many kids would get there work and do it in my room because they were comfortable.
I miss it terribly and maybe 8–10 times in the last year I've cornered my adult children and their friends and told them stories from 30–60 minutes long, depending on the topic. These were the only times I have felt Myself in this long, painful year.