A bizarre case against nice colleagues

I was wandering around a park in Tokyo today and my mind was filled with … nothing. It was, in fact, not a bad feeling since I could enjoy the moment, uninterrupted. This is what I’ve been facing lately, still much to my regret and frustration – absolute lack of a connected stream of thoughts in my brain, a trace of something that could lead me to writing. I’ve written two blog posts since I got to Japan, which is more than 2 months already. As it goes, I’ve given myself excuses:

(1) This new life is exhausting to both my body and brain. I simply cannot muster up enough energy for writing, much as I want to.

(2) Speaking English all day long, as well as actually being social all day long, is way beyond my endurance. I want to seal my mouth (figuratively) as I step out of school.

(3) I’m getting less and less confident of my English speaking, let alone writing ability. I don’t read much, which also has a negative effect. I’ve often felt down for those reasons.

(4) With this new lifestyle I can’t afford nighttime writing anymore. Since that type of writing has been found most fruitful and fulfilling for me, the shift of regime for writing, a new habit has not yet developed (to be honest, I don’t even know where to start building it).

Today I’ve been hit by Excuse number 5. It can be an interesting and unusual answer to my pains and struggles, an unfair treatment, or  just a nonsensical supposition that tomorrow will look bizarre. In any case, I’m going to blame my colleagues.

Did you just sniff? Raise your eyebrows? Did you jump straight ahead into judging me? That’s understandable. Yet there is some truth to what I just typed.

 

As I’ve written before, I consider this new job to be the first real experience of working in a team, shoulder to shoulder with colleagues. I used to teach a class and commute to another one, replaying scenes from the lesson in my mind, typing out my thoughts on the phone, talking to and questioning myself. I had long stopped labelling myself as a “lonely teacher” since I have this astounding and precious online community on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. It’s more support and wisdom than any staff room could offer. Actually sometimes more than I can handle without being overwhelmed, but that’s the beauty of the online staff room – it hurts no one if you shut it down (since it is literally just the browser closed). Anyway, here, this blog used to be the place to talk teaching and life for me.

Now what? I teach a class, go down the stairs, flop into my chair and … talk about this class. Out loud, to my colleagues, who listen and empathize, nod and join me in breaking the lesson down to little pieces. I vent, speculate, describe, reflect, and think of alternatives for my next class. I share funny moments and uncomfortable moments. I think out loud and learn to listen. And in the evening, as I walk home, all that fills my mind is … nothing. All that is left on my blog is the titles of drafts, those clever paragraphs I could have written.

About classes which went wrong and made the teacher shrink inside.

A letter to this teacher’s older teacher self.

A message to students about the things the teacher will not promise to do.

About n things that the colleagues (who we are still blaming)) taught me this week.

About n things that the students taught me this week.

About a training day with John Fanselow.

About 9 towns of Russia.

About my decision to go to teach in Japan and people’s reactions to it.

 

 

 

Of course, I don’t seriously blame anyone. I do feel bitter about missing the mark.

If you can, give me 5 counter-excuses, powerful enough to send me to face the keyboard…

 

Thank you for reading.

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12 thoughts on “A bizarre case against nice colleagues

  1. Rose Bard says:

    I can’t give you 5, other than say love hearing from you. And a stay-away from the computer if what you doing out of it is making you super happy.

    If you are happy, I’m happy.

    • annloseva says:

      This comment from you is encouraging, thank you, Rose.
      This is exactly the problem – I am not at all sure that not writing makes me super happy. It most certainly does the reverse. It is eating me out on the inside.

      I am all very happy otherwise, though)))

  2. Hana Tichá says:

    Dear Anna,

    I talk to my colleagues a lot – we analyze, speculate, sometimes we even judge. I admit it can be overwhelming. But once I sit down and start writing about my experience, I’m a totally different person. Now and then I even manage to come up with a solution or I just find inner peace for a short moment.
    Anyway, I’m sure your colleagues are very helpful, but putting your thoughts down is like shedding your old skin. At least for me it is so. I hope you’ll soon feel like writing more; it will make you a lot happier. Take your time though – this is all happening for a reason. 🙂

    • annloseva says:

      Thank you, Hana. Your comment made me a little happier already. I am very good at taking my time and being “kind” to myself, which is related to supplying myself with plenty of excuses. I see what you mean though.

      Can I ask a question? When and where do you sit down and start writing? Is it at home or in the staff room? I am thinking there are many factors that pull me back and the lack of a good space is one of them. Back at home, my workplace is fantastic and all set to help me write and shed my old skin… but here I haven`t got it. (yet?…)

      • Hana Tichá says:

        Now that I think about it, I’ve never written a post anywhere else but home – on my laptop. I sometimes start a draft or make adjustments to an existing draft while I’m at work, but the final version is always refined and published at home, where I feel best and most comfortable. So I fully understand what you mean when you mention a lack of space for writing. I hope you’ll soon find a good, cosy place out there where you could start shedding your old skin 🙂

      • annloseva says:

        Thank you for helping me realize that! I am inspired to create a good workspace for myself at home. I will share the results! =))

  3. pboc1969 says:

    Hey! Could it be that those whom you refer to are those sitting next you right now? Namely, ME? I never realized I had such a polarizing impact on people. lol!! Actually, yes I did! lol

    1. Your exhaustion doesn’t show. This is a testament to your professionalism.
    2. I feel exactly the same way. I’m right with you on this point…
    3. No need for your confidence to suffer. You are learning to live and work in a completely different environment to what you are used to. Time will fix that!
    4. Try having three kids. no nightlife at all. Don’t complain!
    5. Blame away! It’s all my fault… Life in Japan, ho hum!

    Now, I will try to post this again. And again I will turn to you and say, ‘Hey Ana! Check your blog.’

    • annloseva says:

      Hey,

      It was an interesting feeling to see you read my post about you))) Thanks for caring enough to leave a comment.

      1. Thank you. I wonder if my exhaustion shows on Fridays at 4.50 pm.
      2. That is a comforting thought..)
      3. I believe that to be true. In fact, I feel much much better and more adjusted now than I did even a few weeks ago. Some days bring me down a lot though, and all your different Englishes around.. so confusing at times))
      4. LOL.
      5. I will keep on blaming, then. Thank you for this official permission!

      Now I will turn to you and ask you to check my blog.

  4. Hi Anna,

    Don’t feel you have to write unless you want to! Or make one day your blog writing day and choose on thing from that week to write about – you can cogitate on it with your colleagues!

    I have had the opposite experience this year – a new job in a new school in a new city, but very little teacher chat. There are so many teachers I don’t even know half their names! There are two staffrooms, but its hard to start up teacher chat with people you don’t know, and there’s no staff meeting to encourage team bonding or anything. It’s upset me quite a lot and I’ve ended up not posting for fear of unleashing my negative feelings towards my school in my posts! (Only one week left – hurrah!) So I guess what I’m trying to say is enjoy that staffroom and your lovely colleagues! You can try to combine talking with them and writing reflective and inspired posts with their input.

    I hope you’re enjoying Tokyo!

    • annloseva says:

      Hi Emma,

      The first line of your comment is amazing. It is something I keep in my mind but voiced out by you, so it has more power and is more convincing. Thank you!))

      I like the idea of allocating one day a week for writing… I am not sure I can be that disciplined though. It is worth a try anyway.)

      I am sorry to hear of your situation, I imagine it really must be hard…

      Thank you very much for your kind words!…

  5. Sandy Millin says:

    Hi Anna,
    You can only write when you feel ready, and while we all enjoy reading what you post, if you don’t enjoy writing it, then it’s not worth it. Your blog should be a release and a support mechanism, not a weight dragging you down.

    Anyway, here’s my attempt at 5 reasons to encourage you to come back:
    1. I really want to read your letter to your older teacher self – nice twist 🙂
    2. Posting on the blog doesn’t have to mean a lot of writing: perhaps it could be an audio recording, or a paragraph blog?
    3. You could post in Russian too 🙂 (We can use Google translate to get the general idea, and I don’t think there are many blogs out there from English teachers posting in their native languages) Maybe it will inspire some Russian speakers to make the leap you did.
    4. Your tagline is that your space is ‘currently emerging’. Right now it seems the main thing that’s emerging is the differences between your old life and your new one. I’d love it if you felt you could share them with us. And just in case you’re not recording them anywhere else, it’ll be an amazing thing to look back on.
    5. There’s no point beating yourself up. You’re clearly amazing at English, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing what you do. I don’t remember ever noticing a mistake on your blog that made me have to re-read anything. And remember, practice makes perfect 😉

    Hope you’re having an amazing time in Japan, and looking forward to reading you again soon.
    Sandy

    • annloseva says:

      Hi Sandy,

      Better late than never – I think as I type my reply to your great comment. Thanks so much for always giving encouragement, for finding the right words to say.

      It feels better now that I had this urge to post a couple of days ago! I also was surprised to realize I had totally forgotten about paragraph blogging, it does make it seem like less of a commitment (to myself)).

      Thank you. I have so much to say, and I will say it. Some day when the time is right =))

      P.S. Fun to know you think I sound American))

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