So….it’s testing season around these parts, which means I sometimes forget things. Sorry!
Earlier today, in the throes of spelling-induced temper tantrum, a student asked me, “Why can’t you just be fired?!?”
(Allow me to take a brief sidebar here to thank God for giving me a pretty stellar filter. It sometimes takes a long time for words to make it from my brain to my mouth, and today, that was a good thing. Today, that quite possibly saved my job.)
I responded with something along the lines of “Because I do my work, and people who do their work do not get fired.” (Don’t let the punctuation fool you. Those were my words, but I was not that calm.) I was, for a moment, annoyed at the tantrum. I’d had enough of the whining. Then I pulled some empathy out of my back pocket (I always keep a little there for emergencies) and put myself in this little guy’s shoes. I get it, dude. I know that frustrated feeling. And honestly, I see your point. Firing me would have, in that moment, given me just as much relief as it would’ve given you. Thanks for thinking of me.
And now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the day (and the week, and the longest February in recorded history), I have a few thoughts about why I can’t “just be fired” – and why you can’t either.
Teaching is hard, y’all. We all know it. I’ve written about it before. It’s brutal, butt-kicking work, and it’s not the teaching part. It’s the other stuff. The stuff we can’t fix but really, really want to anyway. The stuff we think about when sleep eludes us at 3am. It. is. hard. So why do we do it? Why does anyone with an ounce of love for themselves sign up for this job? And why do we stay? Why can’t we just be fired?
Because we’re needed. I’m needed. You are SO needed. Great teachers are leaving the field at an alarming rate. 40 to 50 percent of teachers will leave teaching in their first five years. (9.5% of those are gone before they even make it through the first one.) Studies have confirmed this, but none that I’ve found have really put a finger on why. It’s definitely not due to a lack of talent or ambition, and it’s not always a lack of training or support. I think maybe it’s because you don’t know how very needed you are. And THAT, my friends, keeps me up at night. Because if not you, who? Who will do this extremely important work of training up future generations to carry on a functioning society?
I was filling half-empty water bottles with glitter glue earlier this week and thought, “I have two college degrees, and this is what I’m doing with them?” I have friends who’ve told me about similar feelings when they cut out piles and piles of laminated items or staple blank booklets together for writing workshop. Certainly, anyone can do this. Why does it need to be me? How about I go do something that lets me sleep at night and leave my laminated stack for someone else? I pass a billboard every day that says, “Want to teach? When can you start?” Let that guy come staple these booklets together. Can he start tomorrow?
The minutia is what wears us down, what sends us running for the hills, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not enough for you to just be fired. It’s not enough for you to throw in the towel. It’s enough to make you crazy, but please, please, don’t let it be enough to make you leave. As February comes to a close, take a minute to remind yourself of the reasons why you came here, and for the love, please remind yourself of all of the reasons to stay.
Seconds after today’s temper tantrum ended, that same student FINALLY finished his work and said, “Hmm. I thought I was bad at this, but I guess I’m not.”
Ditto, buddy. Ditto.
Well, it’s been almost a year, but I FINALLY updated the site. Lots of new anchor charts and reader’s notebook entries, a brand new Book of the Month page, and a ton of new scripted minilessons. Click here!
As promised, I am adding more of my school’s selections for our Book of the Month program. See below for titles from earlier in this school year. I will keep adding titles from previous years over the next few weeks.
September 2013 Book(s) of the Month
Ish and Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds
October 2013 Book of the Month
A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech
November 2013 Book of the Month
Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest
December 2013 Book of the Month
Being Frank by Donna W. Earnhardt
January 2014 Book of the Month
The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania al Abdullah
If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, you may know that I started a Book of the Month program at my school several years ago. I’ve written about it before, and I also shared it on my Scholastic blog last year. (See those posts here and here.) My principal and I visited a school in New York City that was doing this, and we fell in love. So with her support, I picked out ten titles, and we purchased 45 copies of each title so that every classroom in the building would get a new picture book each month to read and discuss. I had lofty visions about what might happen with this program, and I can honestly say that reality has exceeded my expectations. To have an ever-growing set of texts that every single student in the building has read is creating such a strong community around reading. Kids across grade levels are talking about books, and it’s so exciting to see how responses grow from PreK to 5th grade. I love everything about it and hope we can continue this program for many years! I decided to start sharing the titles on the blog, along with the letter that is tucked inside of each copy. This will hopefully introduce the book to you if you don’t know it already, and it will give you some insight into why I chose it.
I’ll begin with February’s title, which teachers at my school received today, and I’ll add previous titles in the next few days/weeks.
Oh. My. Stars. Nine months, you guys. It’s been nine months since I updated my website. That is ridiculous, and while I completely understand that my excuses will help no one, I will offer a few updates on my life by way of explanation. First of all, there’s a technical hurdle. I build my site with iWeb, which has been dropped completely by Apple and is only accessible on my desktop computer, which rarely gets any love since I sprung for a MacBook. So updating often is a challenge because I just don’t spend much time at all on that computer. (Come on, who wants to be held down to one location by a desktop?!?) 😉
On a more personal note, 2013 was a trying year in a lot of ways, but some persistent medical issues forced everything else in my life to take a back seat. Honestly, to say that this blog was in the back seat is only really accurate if you imagine that I’m driving a school bus. I haven’t even logged on to look at stats, which was once a daily occurrence, in several months.
Many days, just doing my job was an act of survival, so this poor blog just didn’t make the cut. But still, you came. You looked at pictures, you downloaded anchor charts, you saved prompt cards, you pinned to Pinterest, you emailed me even when I couldn’t gather a response. You came because you too are trying to survive in a job that gets harder every day. I am so thankful for teachers like you (yes – you!) who are so committed to learning and refining the craft of teaching that you seek out inspiration from every corner of the internet. Whatever brought you to my little corner, thank you. Thank you for seeking out more information on your own free time, which I know is an absolutely precious commodity that is in too little supply in your life. Thank you for working your tail off every. single. day. If you’re heading back to work tomorrow like I am, know that I am wishing only the best for your classroom this year.
I am doing well from a medical perspective, so I am committed to posting more often. However, I am posting this from my MacBook, which doesn’t solve the iWeb problem. So for now, I’ll leave you with a big batch of unorganized anchor charts. I promise I will get them on the site in a more organized fashion some day!
What else have I promised you that fell through the cracks? What are you wishing you could find on this site? Let me know, and your wish might just come true!
In 2014, may you be blessed and be a blessing.