— Zac Chase (@MrChase) January 10, 2016
I loved being the first one to school, arriving in the dark with so much promise still to be explored. I would plan and I would write. I would grade and I would rearrange desks. That time was more my own than just about any other. I owned not just my classroom, but also the whole of the school for the first hour of every day.
When my daughter was born, that hour vanished. A new hour, around 2:00 AM replaced it. I listened to podcasts and wrote on my blog. I planned lessons then too, balancing her head in the crevice of my elbow while I typed out new ways to read The Outsiders.
My first son split the hour into wonderful little pieces where I could only catch up on a few tweets or grade a single paper. They were scattered in the morning and the evening, always with love from him to bookend the times that I could own for thinking of my classroom.
I stopped owning the school, far before I left it.
And it was the slow realization that I needed the flexibility of splitting my moments or shifting them into the wee hours of the morning that showed me I had to leave. As much as I called my students “my kids,” my actual children were stepping into that role. My childrens’ room became the classroom I needed.
I believe there are those who can do both. There are those who have found ways of living inside of the salary and the hours. They have made the moments work for them. But, I couldn’t keep my classroom at the school. I had to carry it with me, ensuring my own children were the beneficiaries.
It is selfish to think that your own children are the most important. It is hubris to believe you can make a bigger difference farther away from an individual relationship with a student.
And yet… I own my moments. All of them. I own up to the fact that my first home was my classroom and I will always miss it. I own up to the betrayal I feel in teaching others to do what I could not commit to. I own up to the desperate need I have to love my three children and to ensure they are learning deeply.
They do not keep me out of the classroom, though. Instead, they bring me closer to it. They help me to see why I was there in the first place. It wasn’t to own an hour or a school. It was to create something worthy of the effort. I believe that they are just that.