Monday, June 1, 2009

Oh, My Aching Feet! IRD Reprise

I wasn't going to teach reading this summer.

Last year gave me much "rich experience" and it also meant that I had no summer weekends, and aching feet. My arthritis--part of a larger medical condition--means that standing for hours on the concrete-based floors of classrooms is murder on my feet. After two full days of teaching last summer, I'd come home limping and almost lame. I'd lose whole days off sitting with my feet up. Teaching requires lots of standing, bending, twisting, and walking. Only in the Jewish context is it done sitting at a table with students.

I loved the teaching, but I hated the pain. And the weekends away from my family. And the lost Sabbaths.

So, when the company, the Institute of Reading Development, sent out the re-application paperwork, I studiously ignored it. I filed it in the recycle bin and promptly emptied it.

Not this summer. I was planning a summer of working on my dissertation proposal and getting the guest room/library (formerly the Chem Geek Princess's room) organized. THAT would be enough.

Sigh. I am an accomodating midwesterner transplanted to manana land. It's very difficult to say "no" and stick to it when they e-mail me saying how much they want me. Especially when I believe in the program and know it works for students. And extra-especially when I get such a charge out spending time with kids of all ages and books. It's addictive.

I tried. I e-mailed back to my last summer's teaching supervisor, saying that I liked the work, but that I was unwilling to teach on Saturdays. She e-mailed back saying that, unfortunately, they had already split classes for the first five weeks on Saturday afternoon, BUT that they would work very hard to accomodate my need during the second five weeks.

The next gambit: I would like to teach, but it would need to be part time. By return e-mail, IRD said they needed a half-time teacher in New Mexico, as they had already hired a full-time person.

I caved, glutton for feet-punishment that I am.

It is almost three quarter's time this first term, and I have almost every level of course IRD offers. That's exciting.

I got out the wool socks to cushion my feet. (I know it's summer, but they help). I went through re-training--which was a much more pleasant experience than the marathon first training.

I started Saturday afternoon. I have had full classes with great kids, ranging from the sweet eagerness of pre-K to mid-school age, ones who are shy or social, resistant and/or thoughtful. And now that I understand the IRD scope and sequence, I find that I can focus on them and their issues in ways I could not last year. I feel the flow of the class sequence, and I can enjoy the process with the students, quickly able to ascertain which ones need to move (two so far), which ones need a firm hand, and which ones need to be encouraged to talk.

I am beginning to feel like an experienced IRD teacher.

But, Oh! My aching feet. And this year, Oh! My aching knees.
(RA has the nasty habit of progressing).

The lifting of heavy boxes, the crouching by a table to encourage a little one to speak up, the twisting between desks to listen to a second-grader lisp through an Easy Reader passage: these all take their toll.

Teaching is for young people.

And those who wear Z-Coils.

I am about to be among the latter. The volunteer choir coordinator at our synagogue (and her husband) both swear by them. They say that they can go through a whole day standing and still go dancing that night.

I have been thinking about Z-Coils for a while anyway.

But I have resisted. I don't want to wear "old lady shoes" when I am not yet (quite) fifty.

Never mind that I have already outlived the lifespan of a pioneer woman, and have yet to develop wrinkles! (I keep my fair Eastern European complexion out of the high-elevation New Mexico sun. I have always envied the brown beauty of the easy-tanning complexions. But, alas, I did not choose my ancestors).

But Z-Coils have gone from one or two utilitarian styles, to a range of colors and styles--from sandals, to hiking boots, to walking shoes! I went on line this morning, and saw several possibilities.

So, I'm soon off to Z-Coil. I've got to get me some of these . . .

My grandma never wore shoes like this.
But then, sensible at fifty, she never hiked Sedillo Canyon with two dogs in tow, either!


Retriever said...

cool sandals!

After a lifetime standing and walking a lot on concrete, here are a few shoes that might give your feet a break in class:

The silly looking Fit Flops (they have soft suede under the strap against your skin (no blisters) and you can now get them in dark brown soles that don't show dirt. Cushioned and decent arch support despite the seemingly airhead flip flop design. You might get a slight blister from the front the first day or two, but comfy on three mile hikes around our beach/park.

Birkenstocks if suede (but much less comfortable because less shock absorption than the Fit FLops)

Certain of the Merrill line walking shoes, if the more ventilated kind are great (tho maybe still too hot for summer)

I still swear by the Dansko Professional leather stapled clogs (with backs. Walk 5 and 6 miles comfortably in them. For summer, perhaps get a bigger size than in winter and wear your wool socks or what about cotton cushioned runner's socks w padded soles(the anklet kind)

Or some of those waterrunning shoes with running shoe shock absorption and mesh or sandal sides.

I destroyed my knees in youth training for marathons on concrete city sidewalks, so I am rather obsessive about shock absorption, and sympathetic to your plight.

christinemm said...

I have never heard of a z-coil but that sandal looks cool actually.

I need something too with good arch support. Dansko clogs are not cutting it lately.

Low support sandals such as Teva's are terrible for me. Birkenstocks don't fit my foot shape.

I want to try the z-coil!

Sorry to hear of your pain from teaching. Is there any way at all you can sit more?

You are a good person to do that job again even part time.

You are doing good work to help kids read!

Anonymous said...

Heh, heh...I love my Crocs. I had damaged the joint at the base of my right big toe in a silly college stunt (a jumping for the ceiling contest, maybe), and it never healed. Until a few years ago, when my little daughters, ignoring my cries of "but they're so UGLY!", hauled me off to the neighborhood shoe store and forced me to get some (at the time) Made in USA Crocs, tin woodman silver. I have four pairs now, including black Mary Janes that I use for performances with my "concert black". And...after six months of wearing nothing but these shoes, my joint didn't hurt any more, possibly because the foot is evenly supported by the shock absorbent sole. Crocs stretch; my original pair has room for thick wool socks, and I've twice gone down a size to get shoes suitable for sock free days. They don't have much arch support, just a "natural" foot bed, but this ex-Birkie devotee would rather fight than switch!