Cleaning Out, Moving Forward

Week 8

Last week, I wrote about this weird state of in-between. This week, that continued, with a weird sense of finality about it. Yesterday, I made my way to my home school for the first time in almost 2 months to complete the end-of-year cleanup. The gigantic box of materials that has been living in my dining room was removed and unboxed in my office. Granted, the dining room is still more than half office space with my husband’s monitors and such taking up part of the table and my large box of materials being replaced with 2 small boxes to tide me over. Still, it’s a downshift, a move towards the end of this strange quarantined therapizing.

Back in my office, I decided to do a real organizing. I’ve been at this school for 2 years now and will begin my 3rd in August. For an SLP who moves every couple of years, year 3 seems the right time to make the space feel like mine. So, I finally tackled the filing cabinet drawers filled with therapy materials from the… 80s? Maybe 90s? I’m not even sure. Everything in my eco-friendly brain struggled against it as I eyed the antique line drawings and typewriter-produced worksheets. I tried to make myself believe they could be reused. But, in the end, I pitched them in the bins waiting outside. Coronavirus has shuttered our city’s recycling process, so I didn’t even try to guilt myself into bagging all the recyclables away until it opens back up (our less than 1000 square foot house with no carport/garage or storage really can’t handle that). (Instead, I made mental notes of how to reduce my therapy waste in the coming year. Hauing boxes of materials home and back during this process has also done a number on my quest for a more minimal therapy lifestyle. But I digress.) I meticulously sorted paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands, and thumbtacks into their own little dividers. I made a shred box of loose forms and reports and such over 5 years old. I sorted drawers by activity type. I even sorted through the utter chaos that was the drawer of RedCat paraphernalia. When I left, utterly exhausted, and wanting nothing more than an entire bag of tortilla chips and jar of salsa, I felt fairly confident that I would be able to begin my 3rd year as the high school SLP in a state of semi-zen.

The feeling of having my room keys taken away and office packed up is a little strange when I consider the mountain of things still left to do. I have 2 more weeks of teletherapy to conduct, as well as a hand full of meetings, and basically all of the paperwork. I continue to thank God that I decided to buy a toner cartridge for my little printer a few weeks before the world shut down. He has been a little workhorse for me these past couple of months. Somehow, I’ve even started diving into “planning for next year mode” and spent part of the weekend outlining the goals I wrote for my students and how I want to go about them. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to get a feel for this age group; I’m thinking that, next year, I can really be effective. (Then again, maybe that’s every year. I don’t know).

This past week, we got an email update from our school district that included the words “Honestly, I have no idea what school will look like in August.” As often as I stress about this job, I found myself thinking, “Please, dear Lord, just give me a normal school year. Please just send me back to my little schools with my little face-to-face interactions and let me do my job.” Sometimes, all it takes is a crisis to shift your perspective.