As I promised, I am kicking off a series of posts that I will write over the weekends called The Secret Occupations of Teachers, or S.O.o.T. for short. I am going to talk about some of the “extra” things that teachers do or compare some of what we do to other occupations. The goal of this series is to give you some comfort in knowing other people understand what you do (along with some encouragement and challenges in some of your roles) and to let other people in on the parts of a life of a teacher that they may not know about. I am excited about these posts, and I hope you will be to!
Today’s S.O.o.T. is gardener/landscaper. These jobs deal with the care and upkeep of plants, for the most part. When you think of gardeners, you think of gardens, flowers, and vegetables. When you think of landscapers, you think of mowing, weeding, planting, and taking care of yards and landscapes. Gardeners/landscapers understand plants. They know what grows when and the circumstances needed for ideal growth…and they know how to create those circumstances. They know weeds. They know how to identify them and get rid of them. They know plants, understand them, and use what they know and understand to grow beautiful and wonderful things.
Teacher, you are a landscaper and a gardener. You don’t deal in plants, you deal in people. The soil that you work with is the minds and hearts of your students. You have to know this soil. You have to understand the circumstances in which you are tying to grow. You get to know you students. Learn who they are and how they think. With this you identify weeds that need to be worked on and pulled out. Sometimes this is easy, but more often it is quite hard. Once the ground is ready, you plant seeds of knowledge and learning.
The seeds grow differently in each student, and you know that the circumstances needed for growth change from student to student. You know that you cannot force the seeds to grow, so you make sure that you enable the soil in each student to have everything that is needs to allow growth. You nurture. You feed and water the seeds. When weeds of misunderstanding grow, you address them quickly with which ever means are necessary. You do all that you can to ensure growth of the seeds, and then you do the only thing you can do…wait.
You wait and see what grows from the soil. You are patient. You are understanding. You change things as needed when the fruit of understanding looks weak with a student. You do all that you can to make sure that you have done all that you can to see understanding bloom and take shape. And when it is all said and done, you stand back and enjoy the beauty of understanding students that has grown from your hard work.
Teacher, I know that this role of landscaper/gardener is hard. You have to be vigilant. You can’t just mow the lawn once or pull up the weeds of misunderstanding a couple of times and be done. No, you have to keep at it. Day after day with each and every student, and you do without complaint. But it is hard.
Don’t give up. I know when you pull up that same weed from one student the 1001st time you do not want to do it again, but keep doing it. Something beautiful WILL grow. Just keep going. Keep at it. You know it is worth it in the end. Focus on what you want to see grow and then do what it takes to make that happen.
You are an amazing gardener. You are a wonderful landscaper. Keep at it! You can do it! You are awesome!
Remember this analogy as you plug away with your students. When the going gets rough and they just don’t seem to be getting it, remember that you are a landscaper/gardener and that if you keep working at it something wonderfully beautiful will grow. When school starts (or right now, if you are teaching), find the most difficult students, and see them as a garden. Find somewhere to write down three things that you want to see grown in them by the end of the year. Work hard at seeing those things grow. Pick three students and three things to grow in them for each. Do what it takes to see the growth. Keep notes on the growth you see. At the end of the year, celebrate the beauty you have watched blossom!
You are an awesome landscaper/gardener, and don’t ever forget that! I hope this has spoken to you and given you some hope. I know it has done that for me just writing this. I am going to take the challenge myself next year. I hope that you do the same!
You are awesome! You are believed it! And you are supported! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
Don’t forget to check out the Facebook Page tonight (Sunday) for the giveaway/contest. The contest closes at midnight on Friday, July 5th!