Great Sunday morning to you! I hope you are having a wonderful and amazing weekend! Today’s post is the second installment of my new weekend post series called S.O.o.T. (the Secret Occupations of Teachers) where I focus on what we do as teachers, even the stuff that a lot of people don’t realize we do, and compare it to other professions. Each week I will acknowledge those “secret” jobs of our, give encouragement for you in those roles, and the give a little challenge to you about those hidden parts of your work. Last week, the first S.O.o.T., I talked about how teachers compare to landscapers/gardeners. If you did not get a chance to read it, you should check it out. The image stuck with me, personally, and I thought about teaching and the things I needed to do in that light throughout the week. Enough of the back story, let’s get to the S.O.o.T. for today! 🙂
This past week, I got a little (minuscule, really) experience of what another profession would be like. If you read my post on Friday, you know that I spent the week working on installing a hardwood floor at my house and practicing the art of perseverance. We worked with a friend, also a teacher, who has a good bit of experience working with professional flooring installers, and we went and consulted with the professional guys to get some pointers, help, and borrow some much needed tools. Those were amazing guys that really know their stuff! We finally finished the floor, which looked pretty good, and I have had a day or so to reflect on the experience. For this reason, today’s S.O.o.T. is flooring specialist.
This is going to be a bit long in the beginning, but please read on to how it compares to teaching. I think it will be worth it!
As I said, flooring specialists are amazing people. Flooring specialists install floors (hardwoods, laminate, carpet, tile, etc…), repair said floors, and beautify the floors. I never realized before how many “moving parts” their are in installing floors! There are so many things you need to think about, know, and keep track of throughout the job. There is a ton of planning. There is a ton of prep work. There is a ton of grunt work (the actual install). And there is a ton of finishing work. When you are done, you have a completed and beautiful product, but there is SO MUCH that goes into it before you get there.
Flooring specialists have to take a look and plan out the floor before they can even start thinking about how to get the job done. It usually includes their client explaining what they would like…which is not always easy to make happen. One part of this phase of the job is explaining the reality of the “vision” to the client and what is possible/impossible, what would go into making it happen, and estimating cost. This lets the client know if they can afford to make their dream a reality. Once this is done, a preliminary plan can be thought out.
The next phase (and part of the planning phase) is getting rid of the old floor and looking at the sub-floor and seeing what needs to be done to it before installing a new floor can happen. Sometimes it means the need for ripping out old sub-floor to put more permanent and reliable sub-floors in, and it almost always need to be leveled with leveling compound so that the new floors will lay flat. Investigating and improving the sub-floor is a vital step in ensuring the longevity of a new floor.
Once the planning and sub-floor prep work is completed, then the actual installation can happen. There is measuring, cutting, gluing, stapling, nailing, tapping, moving, hammering, and a number of other things that I am leaving out. There is even some “undoing” if you make a mistake…which is time consuming and stressful because you do not want to damage the floor that does not need to be fixed. The tools you use to do all of this are special and specific to the job, as well as some power tools for cutting that most people do not have just sitting around. It is all pain-staking and precise work…and the less experience you have the harder it is!
At the end, you need to clean. You need to fill in areas that may need more precise cuts. You need to putty holes left by nails or staples. You need to carefully replace molding and shoe molding. And then you need to clean again. When it is all said and done, it is a beautiful job done…but it was a lot of work to get to “done.”
Teacher, you are a flooring specialist. You are given a vision of what the end product needs to look like with your students. You are told what they need to know, understand, and be able to do by the end of the year. You try to be realistic with the “clients” giving you this vision for your students and show them what is possible/impossible, what it will take to get to the vision, and estimate the costs of the vision (in money, time, and energy), but in the end you are given the expectation for what the “floor” needs to look like.
You make a preliminary plan of what it will take to get the job done, and then you get to looking at the sub-floor. You meet your students. You get to know them. You learn what they know/don’t know. You figure out their strengths and weaknesses. You find out what they have and what they need. You try to find a place that you can teach from that will address the needs of all students. Some students need new ways of thinking and studying…you need to work to replace their “sub-floors” with something more permanent. Other just need to be “leveled out” a bit to be able to keep up with the content, work, and other students. You work hard to get this all done as quick as you can in the beginning so that you can get to the hard work of “laying the floors” of knowledge, understanding, and accomplishment.
Once the prep work is complete, you get to the installation. You measure student data as you go. You use specialized teaching tools appropriate for each situation and student. You find ways to make the new content, understanding, and application “stick” and “adhere” to students minds and thinking. You move things around (content and students). You make sure everything fits. You have a lot of moving pieces to keep track of, but you do it like a champ! Sometimes you have to “undo” some mistakes make, and you do so carefully so you do not damage what has already been done that is working well. You work hard with expertise and professionalism.
In the end you do the finishing work of filling in gaps. You even out places that are a little off. You “putty” in small pieces of understanding that may have been missed here or there. You then replace the molding and finish out what you can to send a beautiful product up to the next grade. You send on an amazing product, but it took a lot of work to get it done!
- Teacher, you are amazing at what you do! The job so often seems hard or impossible…the vision given seems unreachable, but you work hard at it anyway! You get as close to the vision as you possible can, and sometimes you even go past that vision. You are awesome!
- There are so many pieces to what you do, and you have to be great at all of them…and you are! You have to plan with realism. You have to get to know your students. You have to measure, cut, apply, and adjust constantly. You have so much to keep up with…but somehow you do it! You are amazing!
- You do a great job when everything is said and done at the end of the year! Do not be ashamed to look back and see how great the floors are compared to how they were before you got to them! Take a look back at students that you have brought a long way and be proud! Don’t be afraid to do this. You need to do this. Remembering our success is the only way to be even more successful in the future!
- Teachers on summer break, set a vision for next year. Work at that this summer. Yes, you don’t know what your “sub-floors” are like yet, but you can plan a vision. You know the expectations for you, so work from their. Don’t be afraid to plan big. I know I am this summer. Your big plans may not pan out, but don’t be afraid to dream. Come up with the most creative way to meet and surpass the vision that has been set for you by others. You can do it! Come up with at least three real things that you can do different this year to get to the impossible goals set for you. You can do it! You are amazing!
- Teachers teaching right now, stop and think about one real way that you can change what you are doing to better address the needs of your students. Take stock of your “sub-floor” with each student and find one way to help “level” or “improve” the knowledge, understanding, and/or abilities of each student. It is hard work , but worthwhile in the end. One thing for each student. You can do that! Just do it!
Teacher, you are an amazing floor specialist! You work so hard to meet the goals set for you. In the end, you have brought each student so far and have installed beautiful floors. Don’t forget that. Never forget that. You are awesome! Keep on teaching, Teacher!