I’m out for Labor Day, but if any of you are around, enjoy this post and the holiday! – Mr. B

I’m pretty well used to driving a fair distance to work these days. For the past five years or so, I’ve been driving half an hour to both school and work (which were in the same town, fortunately) and only slightly less to my student teaching placement. It’s the peril of living in a small town that doesn’t have very much industry (or at least not really anything for me to support a family on). I also knew that I wouldn’t be teaching in this district, where I graduated from, for several reasons (see here for one), and we had no plans to move when I was looking for a position (because our eldest son is in a special ed pre-K program that we are currently considered in-county for), so a commute was pretty much in the cards for me.

You’d think that this would be a problem or an inconvenience, and there are elements that aren’t very pleasant – gas expenses, for one. The school I teach at is about 40 minutes away, so I have a little bit of a trek before and after school.

But I have to admit that I like the commute. It’s some time for me to sit back and relax, reflect on what’s happened or what’s coming, think more about what I can do to make things better for myself and my students. Some of the country I drive through is the classic corn and soybean fields of the rural Midwest, but there is a stretch of about 7 miles or so in the middle of my path that is green and winding and just beautiful. I turn up whatever CD I’m listening to obsessively at the moment (the only way I ever listen to music), and I enjoy it.

One of my colleagues, who’s also from the area and lives only about 5 miles from our school, noted once in conversation that he misses the commute for many of the above reasons. There’s something about driving a familiar path that can make you think about where you’re going and where you’ve been, and I think that the human mind benefits from putting things in order like that. Having the time of solitude for reflection is absolutely necessary for me to have the clarity of thought that I must have to survive in the classroom.

Maybe eventually the commute will diminish; there’s always the possibility that we’ll move closer to my district at some point in the future. Until then, I can deal with paying for the gas and with the time on the road, for the time that it affords me to take a critical look at my life and my work and to get everything straight. It’s well worth the price.

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