What a great, much needed rest.
It’s been a week since Spring Break came to a close, and I’m hopeful for the next two months! The first few days back from a break are sometimes rocky – did they REALLY not remember what country we live in after just a week away from school? – but I think we’re back in a groove.
As a teacher, each new school year seems to provide a blank slate of possibilities for what’s to come. On the first day of school there is a magical feeling, like anything is possible and we’re going to learn everything by the end of 180 days.
Now that spring has come into our school year, there’s a sense of urgency. I only have them for a short while, and an even shorter amount of time until their end-of-the-year state exams. Now we tend to focus our curriculum into a tight laser of “the essential” stuff we want them to know before they’re out of our hands once again for the summer.
And isn’t life the same way? We start out with wild dreams and crazy expectations (in a good way). The world is our oyster.
Halfway through, we start to get a little more practical, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had. The reality that not EVERYTHING is going to be accomplished in one lifetime is pretty clear now, and we start to focus our efforts on what we thing is most important.
I haven’t reached the spring break of my life yet, but whether we’re there, or around the halfway mark, or even if you’re still at the first days of school – this is clear:
Treat every day like it’s the final days of learning. The last days of school are coming soon enough….
I’ve been out with a persistent “bug” for a little while now, and finally feel ready to get back in the saddle. After you’ve been away for a few days, it feels like forever. Things have piled up since you’ve been gone. It seems like the year is slipping away (we only have sixty days left? We HAVE to get moving on those decimals!) I have to remind myself to take a step back and remember that it’s okay to have a substitute once in awhile. That it’s more important for thier teacher to work at 100% for most of the days, than it would have been to teach sick and tired for all of them. (the kids are better off for it anyway – no one wants a cranky teacher!) 🙂
But now it’s time to really focus on the work. Remember and reenergize about what we’re doing – getting these kids ready for life! Put me in, coach! I’m ready!
I love the years/ages when kids are excited to go to school. The younger ones get up every day pumped to get to school. They can’t wait for the bus. Can’t wait to get there. It’s not WORK for them. It’s exciting. They get to do things and learn things. Kids understand on a subconscious level that it’s better to be active and have things to do, than to not. If they had to stay home all day, what would they do?
These days, I tend to never have a second to sit down and do nothing. But I should count my blessings! I’ve got things to do!
Many times I have bemoaned the fact that I’m so busy. I think – “I’d be so much happier if I had a lazy day to do just nothing. I’ll lay around all day.” But if I think back on some days in the past where I actually DID do nothing all day, I think I felt even lousier at the end of those days than any other. I wasn’t satisfied. I just felt kind of numb. I don’t want to be numb.
I want to be energized with life and challenges. I think I know how the kids feel. I WANT to go to school today. If I’m not teaching, or learning, or challenging myself or others I’m just going to be numb. And that’s no FUN!
I’m always surprised when the realization hits me – people don’t all think the same as I do. Old, young, my same age, male, female, it doesn’t matter. While we all have a collective understanding of some things, so much of our thought process and way of thinking is different. In fact, every person is different in many ways from everyone else. So how, then, do we all work together day in day out?
We need UNDERSTANDING that people are different. This applies to the classroom, boardroom, and living room. There have been many times that I’ve tried teaching a concept to a student with no luck, only to realize they’ve been coming at the problem from a completely different way than I was. If I had only tried to think the way they did, I would have been more successful.
The old saying is “walk a mile in their shoes,” but I think you need to slip inside their brain to really get the idea. Try to move your mind around to their way of thinking, for a minute, to see how they see it. It requires a limber and flexible mind to do it, but it’s possible!
For instance, I cannot understand why my wife likes to watch old masterpiece theatre “Jane Eyre” productions. She’s actually seen about three different versions of the same story, and she’ll watch them over again. Why would anyone want to do that? (I know there’s a few hands up already.) I could argue with her about it, but I’m not going to change her mind. She is going to like what she likes, and I have to see that and accept it.
Same way with kids, co workers, bosses…we need to walk a mile in some shoes. The next time you think to yourself “how could anyone think that way?” realize that they DO think that way. It’s a fact. Start trying to understand and accept it, and we’ll all be a lot happier in life.
Unless you make me watch Masterpiece Theatre.
There’s certainly challenges in my life. It seems like they crop up every day. Some days there’s little, some days there’s a lot. But every day brings at least one. It’s really just life. Challenges are what life is all about.
Most days, the challenges are your standard variety. The normal day to day parts of the job that people have to deal with – this student needs some extra multiplication help, this person needs an email to clarify something, the bank seems to be short $50 – minor annoyances that we are there to fix. The lightbulbs need changing. The laundry needs done. Pretty routine.
But some days the big ones creep up on you. The car won’t start before work in the morning. The car breaks down or you get into an accident. The kids have stomach flu, or worse. There’s an emergency at work. And of course, life threatening illnesses that are the world changers. They’re out there, waiting for us. They can happen at any time.
I used to be scared of these things happening. I used to dread them, and when they DID happen – trying to get ready for work and suddenly the kids are throwing up all over my jacket, for instance – I would get upset and frustrated and flustered.
But I realized something in those moments that make me change my perspective. Just a change in thinking about these instances made me change the way I approached the challenges of life.
When we play videogames, there are challenges all over the place. There are things we need to figure out, bad guys to defeat, and obstacles to overcome. If there were not, we wouldn’t even bother playing the game. A videogame where you just had to walk from point a to point b, and then it was over, with no challenges in the way, would be boring and mundane. Why even bother putting the game in?
When the challenges in life come up, remember – this is your chance to pass this level. This is the moment where you meet the big “boss” of this stage, and you can defeat him. The way you handle the situation will determine whether you make it past, or have to repeat the level until you do it right. Embrace the challenge. Otherwise you’ll never get any farther than you already are.
It’s a simple act. Step outside. Do something different. But it always seems so hard to make the first step. First steps in anything are, classically, the hardest ones to take.
Life is about making first steps. Every first step you take is a new experience you’ve put under your belt. That first time you tried turnips. The first time you went ice skating. The first time you wore neon green. You don’t think about it, but you get up every day when you probably don’t want to. You make a choice what to eat, what to get dressed in…and if you always did the same thing you’d never take any first steps. But then would you be experiencing everything life has to offer?
I think as teachers and parents we think we’re done with our “living” and focus on teaching the young ones about it. But the best teachers are the experienced ones. The best instructional tool is being a great example.
I want my kids to be lovers of life. I want them to be first step takers. I want them to experience everything, the good and the bad. And that means I have to show them what a first step taker looks like, acts like…what he does everyday in everything.
I think I’ll take that first step, and choose to go outside now. Maybe I’ll go bird watching. I’ve always thought about doing that.
If you are a teacher, educator or parent, you know there is a big difference between boys and girls (beyond the obvious grass stains). You know that boys deal with problems, handle stresses, deal with boredom, deal with friendships, deal with authority all differently.
I want to be up front about the fact that I enjoy teaching girls in my class – that’s obvious. Most teachers will tell you that the girls in their class are fairly well behaved (elementary grades). They sit still, do their work, and their handwriting is so nice!
I’ll contend that school is a place where a girl (for the most part – there’s always exceptions to the general rule) will do well. The sit and be nice model works for the way a girl handles life (Brain Rules – Medina).
Boys don’t sit still as well. They are wild and crazy. They have too much energy. They want to hit a problem with their actual head, rather than try and solve it with their mind.
But boys are awesome too. They are fearless and boundless. They don’t have the problems socially with cliques so early on like girls sometimes do. And they are enthusiastic when they are interested. So INTEREST THEM.
Do something to engage the boys in your class. Do something messy. You’ll both thank me for it (and you won’t have to wrangle Johnny into his seat for the thousandth time that day).