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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Laugh and Love but don't lament: Teach well until the last day.




At the end of the day, I feel about like the middle school track meet where I ran too fast and hyperventilated and passed out. I woke up on the ground with a bag over my mouth wondering about all those people looking at me.

Every good teacher I know is completely stressed to the hilt. Desks are missing pens and pencils from those who have snitched them and refuse to ask Mom and Dad to buy more. We're all overflowing with papers that we're trying to grade. We read newspapers blaming every ill of education upon teachers.

I don't know about you, but my email is full and so is my list. I don't even feel like making a list because I don't have enough paper to write it upon. There really isn't any hope of getting caught up (if that were such a thing.)

Meanwhile, just about everyone is "crabby" (as we say in the South.) Gone are the relaxed moments, everyone is running into the copy room with a burst of air upon their heels, banging the cover a few times when the red light is on (again) and whisking out. Everyone who has summer programs is trying to get me to give information to the parents and those students who have procrastinated I doubt will get their work in by the next Friday deadline. Kids are making movies and others are pretending to make them while others are making up more and more reasons to miss school.

One foot

Some students are just putting one foot in front of the other, ducking their heads to hope that I won't notice them and doing as little as possible until the school year ends. They are biding their time and hoping they don't have to exert themselves too much in the process.

So are some teachers.

Life is more than just one foot in the summer or one foot on the weekend.

It is a tough time of year, sure. It is sooooo busy, but we can do more than just put one foot in front of the other. Life is short. This is one less April I'll get to teach when this is done. In fact, this is one less April I'll get to live after it is done. I spent time talking to a ninety year old retired teacher who taught 70 years and made $49 a month to teach 60 students in her first job. (Which she quit after they wouldn't pay her so she could pay the hotel.) She just laughed and smiled about the funny things that happened, which interestingly, usually involved misbehavior. (Do you realize you WILL laugh about this one day?)

There are tons of reasons to have a sub-par attitude. But there is one BIG reason to adjust and have a good attitude.

You. 

A good attitude will make you feel better but it will also improve the mood in your classroom. You have to live with this life and with this profession. Why are you going to ruin the life you live and the profession you love with a sour attitude. Every person has something to whine about.

Are you going to call the "waaaaaambulance" or just embrace your life and do the best with what you have?

Don't let those who are biding their time with one foot in the summer put one of your feet in the grave. It isn't worth it. You do your best and stay focused. Do what is important. Hold students accountable. Find a way to have fun. Keep your wits about you and know that this too shall pass... very soon.

When someone else is sorry in their work performance, that doesn't give you an excuse to be sub par. Another teacher might go to work today in a dirty shirt, but does that make you want to don one too? Goodness no. Then why, when we see a teacher biding their time with their feet up on the desk showing a movie, do we use that as an excuse to do the same thing? You're noble. You care about teaching or you wouldn't be reading this right now. No one can take away your nobility but you can give it away yourself. Keep the nobility and the purpose in your classroom and teach until the last bell rings with a great attitude.

Where's your one foot going to be? 
Why one? Well, your first step determines your second and so forth. If you go ahead and fast forward to vacation you're not going to live NOW. You're not going to be a great teacher.

I am going to love the kids every day, every moment, every hour. I'm going to do my best even when others are checking out. I'm going to stay HERE, mind body and soul and love every last one of them every moment I can. Teaching is a privilege and I get to be a teacher. Wow.

I'm going to put one foot towards optimism, hard work, and faith that this is my called, very important profession. I'm going to resist the desire to whine about things I can do NOTHING about and make the best of them. I'm going to laugh and love and leave out the lamentations.

I'm going to put the next foot forward knowing that if I do this every day that in five weeks when school is out, I'll look back and know that I did my best and ended well.

How about you? Where is your one foot going to be?

Photo Credit: Big Stock
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