Movie break. This one of my favorite scenes from the movie Tommy Boy. Give it a quick watch and then read. I promise, there is a point.
“Why did I just watch this?”
I will be honest, when I went to write, I had this idea of writing about Monday being “Go Time” for teachers and I went looking for the scene when it was said in this movie. However, watching the clip brought a message to mind for me that I need to hear (even if it is hearing it from myself). This clip has a lot to do with teaching.
So often we feel like things are going well in a class or all of our classes. We have done all of the right things, as far as we know. We are using the best strategies. We are integrating. We are differentiating. We are rigorizing (yes, I just made up a word). We are doing everything a teacher should be doing…then…
Something hits us out of left field and destroys the classroom peace and joy that we thought we had. It could be a student meltdown. It could be a parent issue. I could be an administration situation. It could be a number of things that suddenly send us in a tailspin and weave us all over our little teaching road.
Before we know it we are in a fight for our teaching lives.
Then the chaos dies down.
The dust settles.
Blame gets assigned.
Usually, the fight is with ourselves. What did we do wrong? What could we have done different? Why did we not think of the issue that happened? So on and so on and so on.
Sometimes the fight is with others. A power struggle with students. A disagreement with parents. An accusation from administration or other teachers.
Who ever the fight is with, it usually starts at the blame game.
The part of the scene that hits me the most is when Tommy said, “I am trying my best. I am not my dad.”
How often do we feel that way? Okay, probably not the “dad” part, but we do compare ourselves to others, especially to the teachers that seem to make being a great teacher look easy.
When we get to that point where we feel like we can’t do better than we are because we are trying “our best” is when we need to pause, take a deep breath, and think before we act.
This is where we are most defensive. Because of that, we are also at the point when we can be the most stupid. In this movie scene there was a literal fight. But in teaching we can make bad choices when we feel this way…choices we may regret later.
Our “go time” needs to be different.
We need to make choices that will help and not hurt the situation. Choices that we can learn from. Choices that our students will see and learn from. Choices that will help us not get to this point in the future.
Sorry for the vagueness here, but every has different situations and triggers that get us to this point in teaching on any given day.
Luckily, the solutions are pretty much the same for most scenarios.
There are some steps to take to help us get in the right state of mind.
Like I said, pause and breathe. Most of the time, reacting immediately leads to those poor choices mentioned.
Remind yourself that it is not as bad as it feels. In the moment, things are blown out of proportion. You need to keep them in perspective…even if the other person/people isn’t/aren’t. When everything is sorted out in the end, you never regret having kept thing in perspective…but you almost always regret not doing this.
Remember why you teach. When the going gets tough, it is easy to forget that you actually love teaching. Look for the silver lining or just remember that teaching is your passion…the little hiccups to teaching are always short and small in the long run.
Take as much time as you can. Delay making a decision or action on the situation as long as you can. Be like the Ents in Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The Ents are tree-based characters and they are known for the lack of moving quickly. They try to never be hasty. One of their leaders, Treebeard, said in the book The Two Towers, “But I spoke hastily. We must not be hasty. I have become too hot. I must cool myself and think; for it is easier to shout stop! than to do it.” When you move to quickly, your choices lead to more. Stop and stay stopped before you move. It really is much easier to say stop than actually do it once you are moving.
Put the students and their needs first. When you come to decision time, focus on the student/students. What do they need most from the situation. How can you turn a negative into a positive for them.
If you try to take these steps, your “go time” will be well thought out and meaningful in the end for all that are involved.
Teacher, things come up. We face hard times. Never forget that you love teaching, and the hard times never last forever. The tough things will pass eventually. Keep on teaching your teaching best, even in spite of the difficulties sometimes.
You are so awesome! I know that the challenges don’t keep you down long. I know that with every “go time” you have you get better and better at doing them well. I sincerely hope that you have the best day ever! Never give up and always keep on teaching, Teacher!
You are the one. You have what you need. You have plans, but you also have heart. You are ready…even if you are not completely ready.
You have a mind and know how to use it. You can roll with the waves and the punches. This day…this week…this year will not dominate you. You’ve got this. Somewhere deep inside you know that you can handle this.
Your students have no idea what is coming. Use that. You can do something different today. Take them off guard. Show them that you know your stuff. Show them that you care. Show them that you are the teacher that they need you to be.
What do I mean by this? That depends on you. That depends on what you are facing today. That depends on what you need.
Does that mean that I am being generic with my encouragement today?
No! It just means that the message for today is whatever you need it to be.
You really do have this under control, even if you don’t feel like it.
No matter what is ahead of you, you can do this today. You can teach. You can make it through. You can be who your students need you to be.
Be that teacher.
You are that teacher.
Do what you need to do today.
Need to change your plans? Do it.
Need to review though there is little time to do it? Review away.
Need to take a stand about an issue happening in your class? Stand up.
Need to hold your ground on a school issue unrelated to students? Do what you need to do.
Be who you need to be today.
Your students and those around you have no idea what you have in store today. You have the upper hand. You have the element of surprise. Surprise them today.
You’ve got this!
You are awesome! You can do this today. Go. Do. Be the teacher! You are amazing! I believe in you! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
You have today. That is it. Nothing else. Only today.
Yesterday is no longer here. Good or bad, it is gone. Celebrate it. Cry over it. Do what you need to do, but it is over. Done. Completed.
Tomorrow is just that, it is tomorrow. It is not here yet. The worries of tomorrow are always a day away. The promises of tomorrow are just out of reach. It is the future. Not yet. Not here. Not now.
You have today.
You have here.
You have now.
It is so easy to be wrapped up in what has happened (yesterday) or what will happen (tomorrow) that we forget that we have the here and now. We have today.
At any second, we can look around and take stock of what we have and make the best of it. Really, all we can control is what we are experiencing in the moment. Think about it. That is all we can do. Act in the here. Act in the now. Act today.
We can use the experiences of yesterday. We can learn from mistakes and successes. We can use what we have gained and accomplished. We can withdraw from the bank of yesterday, but we cannot go back and make deposits. We can’t be stuck in yesterday. We have to use yesterday to make today better.
Now, we can make deposits in the bank of tomorrow. That is certain. We can make choices today that make tomorrow’s today better. Don’t get me wrong. We do need to think about that. But it cannot be all that we do. Tomorrow never really gets here. We have to remember to live in today. Today is where we always are.
Today is it.
Today is a gift. It is what we have to give to the world. It is where we live our life and strive to make a difference. It is the now that lets us make tomorrow’s todays better and better.
It is a gift. However, it is only what you make of it. Will you make it something that you remember and can withdraw from in future todays? Or will you make it a weight that weighs you down? What it is up to you. It is all in how you use it. Your attitude determines so much of what today will be. How are you thinking about today?
Today is all you have.
What are you going to do today? What are you going to make of today? How will you change the way you look at today? How will you make today count? How will you make today be something you remember tomorrow and lets you be stronger in the next today?
How will you use today to change your students’ tomorrows?
How will you teach them to use today?
How will you model today?
Today is our gift.
Let’s give our today to the world. Let’s make it count. Let’s use it to change ourselves, our students, and our world. Let’s make today about making other people’s todays better.
Are you with me?
I know I am thankful for today. Today is mine. I want it to count. Will you join me in making today great?
You are awesome! You make every today count. I am so proud of you for that! You are so amazing! I believe in you. You are making a difference. Keep on living today and keep on teaching, Teacher!
I know, since most of you that read my blog are from the US, are headed for an extended break this week. I have been pondering about what I should write about at the start of a week like this. Do I do a full message on a short week? What should I talk about? What do I need to hear? What do you need to hear?
I think I know.
But first, it is Monday, so you know what to do. This post has a theme song and it is your theme song for the week. I am sure that I have heard this song before, but it was fresh to me this morning as I looked for a song that went with the theme for this morning. I like it. I am glad to have this song in my head this week and I hope you will be, too.
So, what do I think we teachers need to hear about this week?
What is a message that we need to hear about on this week when we think about what we are thankful for?
What do teachers need this week?
Hope is a state of mind. Hope is an expectation of a positive future something (event, change, etc.). Hope is an outlook on the world that changes our perspective on what is happening. Hope is a contagious catalyst for emotions that drive us from negative to positive thoughts and actions.
Hope changes us. Hope makes us stronger. Hope makes us work harder. Hope lets us persevere through the difficulties and stress we go through until our hope is realized and materialized on the other side of obstacles.
What is hope for a teacher?
Students are our hope. We can not lose them as the focus of what we do. We teach because we want to see a change in students. We want them to become productive adults one day. We want them to learn and learn on their own. We want to see them become the leaders of tomorrow. We want them, in essence, to change the future and what we are experiencing now.
Students are our hope.
Because students are our hope, we can get through anything. All of the little things that we have to go through and put up with are nothing when we remember that we are doing what we do for the sake of students. When we have to pick and chose what can actually be done of the millions of expectations that are put on us, when we prioritize, we remember this hope and make our choices based on this, on them, on our students.
When we plan, we think of what we are planning for. When we grade, we think of what we are grading for. When we go to meetings, we think about what those meetings are for. When we go to PD, when we read, when we _______________ (you fill in the blank), we remember what all of these things are for.
The “what” that these things are for is really a “who.” It is for our students. It is for their future. They are the hope we need.
When you have a bad day…remember your hope. When your students are not doing what you planned…remember your hope. When that one student gets on your last nerve…remember your hope. When your fellow teachers make things difficult for you…remember your hope. When your administration seems to add stress after stress…remember you hope. When you feel like you are on the edge of burnout and just can’t go on any more…remember your hope.
Remember your hope.
Your hope is your students.
Remember your hope this week.
I know that it is a shorter week, but do not lose sight of that. It is still time that you have with your students. It is still time to teach them. It is still time to influence them. It is still time to make a difference.
Students are your hope.
As you remember what you are thankful for, remember to be thankful for your hope. Be thankful for the reason that you are a teacher. Be thankful for the very purpose that you get up each and every day and muddle through all that you have to go through. Be thankful for the hope of the future. Be thankful for your students!
I would like to add, that you, Teacher, are a part of my hope. You going on gives me hope. You getting through the tough parts of what we do gives me hope. You teaching your heart out gives me hope. You not giving up your hope gives me hope.
Thank you for being my hope. I am thankful for you!
You are awesome! You are amazing! You have a hope that keeps you going. Don’t forget that hope! You are making a difference! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
I have written to you a lot about what you are as a teacher. You are a world-changer. You are a superhero. You are a live-saver. You are a future-molder…
You are tired. You are stressed. You are over-worked. You are overwhelmed. You are beat-up. You are burned out.
You are a teacher.
Today I want to do something a little different. I want to mention something that you are not. It is something that you need to hear and be reminded of each and every day.
You, Teacher, are not alone.
Since last Friday, I have received more feedback than I ever gotten about the blog. Goodness No!, Be The Shark, and Superheroes and Alter-Egos have really resounded with teachers. There have been so many messages of “thanks” and “I needed to hear that.” The common theme seems to be that what I am saying is what you all are going through.
The funny part is that with all three of these posts, I truly was writing to myself. I was speaking to what I am feeling and going through. I was trying to remind myself to remember why I do what I do in all of the busyness and stress of teaching. I was talking to me and letting you listen in.
Teachers from all over the world have said, “That is me, too. I am going through those things. I am having those thoughts. That is how I feel. Thank you for the reminders of why I teach and what is important!”
You know what this means?
We are not alone.
No matter how you feel at your school, in your grade level, in your subject area, or whatever your teaching situation, you are not on your own. What you are going through is common. What you are feeling is not odd. You don’t have to feel lonely as a teacher because the teachers around you aren’t feeling the same way. Other teachers ARE going through what you are going through. The teachers you work with probably are, too, they are just hiding it well.
You are not alone.
Do not be ashamed of feeling tired and overwhelmed. Don’t be embarrassed by the burnout. Don’t feel bad when you mess up, lose your cool, or just want to give up. You are not the only one. You can get through it. You can get past it. You can get back to who you are and why you love to teach.
We know what you feel like because we feel it to…you are not alone because the whole world of teachers is with you.
Feel like giving up? You are not alone.
Burned out? Beat up? Beat down? You are not alone.
Stressed? Overwhelmed? Exhausted? You are not alone.
Feeling isolated and lonely in what you are experiencing in teacherhood? You most definitely are not isolated and alone…we are right there with you.
Feel like you are the only one who feels the way you do? You aren’t. You are not alone.
Have I said it enough? You are not alone.
“So what? I am not alone. I get it. Now what?”
Knowing you are not alone is a great place to start. It reminds you that other people have experienced, are experiencing, and will experience what you are experiencing. This thought alone gives you hope. Hope leads to perseverance. Perseverance keeps you going. Going and pushing on lets you get through what you are going through. Getting through gives you perspective and helps you keep going next time you get on this cycle. AND…all of this helps you to remember why you teach and keeps you on that teaching path…no matter what the world and life and teaching throws at you.
So…know you are not alone and let this give you hope.
You can make it. You can get through. You can push on. You can. You can. You can. You can because you are not alone!
You are awesome! You will keep going. You are making a difference and you will keep making a difference. You are amazing and YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Remember this and keep on teaching, Teacher!
Can you tell that I am in that stage of the teacher-cycle where you feel overwhelmed by the impossibilities that plague us? I know that we all go through that. It is normal. Even so, it does not make it any easier.
Teachers are asked to do what can’t always be done. We try and we don’t give up, but impossible odds are impossible odds…if you ask one group of people to face them alone, at least. It feels like that for us a lot, if we admit it. We are asked to do things that we can’t do alone…and it gets tiresome and lonely.
Just the weekend I read an article in which yet another societal woe was blamed on the education system and how we are not doing enough to help the next generation make better choices. I had a training this week that puts another of the major issues for adolescents on the shoulders of educators. I feel the burdens of the school life, home life, and future life of my students more and more everyday. I, and all other teachers, are put in front of major foe after major foe day in, day out, week after week, month, and year.
It hit me this morning. The reason I am so tired is very clear. I know why “overwhelmed” does not even to begin to describe what we feel sometimes.
We are being asked to be superheroes.
We are commissioned to save the world.
We are tasked with saving and rebuilding the future.
We are given the job of fighting all of the societal and cultural super-villains that threaten our world.
Of course we are tired!
The theme of this post, though, is not to bemoan and complain about this role. We knew what we were being asked to do when we accepted the job and put on the uniform. This is not news. We got into this to change the world.
It is just tiring work. It is hard. It seems impossible. Sometimes the problems seems so big and we seem so small.
I have always been drawn to superheroes and in the idea of them. I love the ones who were not born with the “superhero” in them, but had the ability and role thrust upon them. I love to see the struggle between who they were and the superhero that they have become.
Peter Parker was just a teenager/young adult when be became Spiderman. Sue Storm and the other Fantastic Four were just scientists when they got their powers and started fighting crime. The story is the same for Bruce Banner when he became “Hulk.” Bruce Wayne may have been super-rich, but he was just a man when he took on the role of savior of Gotham (I actually think, outside of the money thing, that Batman is more along the lines of what teachers do, but that is another post for another day).
I say all of this to say that there are two sides to most of the superheroes in comic books (graphic novels) and movies. They have alter-egos. They have someone who they are when they are not fighting crime and the world’s woes.
Teachers are the same. We can’t always be “on.” Even throughout the school day, we sometimes need to take of the mask and breathe a minute. We need to take a little break from the super-villains every once in a while and remember that we are people, too.
The “bad guys” will always be there. We will always be asked to fight them. BUT DON’T BE AFRAID TO LET YOUR GUARD DOWN. It is okay to remember that you are weak.
Take a minute and remember who you are in the mirror. Take a break. Take a breath. Ask for help if you need it.
You can’t always be “super” even if you want to be. You are a person and a teacher. Don’t be ashamed of that. Remember who you were before you became a world-saving-crime-fighter. It is okay.
It is okay to be your alter-ego, Super Teacher. You are both people. Don’t fear your weaknesses. Acknowledge them. Work through them. Be who you are along with the hero.
Take a breather every once in a while and then get back to fighting. It is okay. The battle will always wait for you. Don’t worry about that!
You are awesome! You are a hero. You are a superhero. Your students do need you…but you need you, too. Your family, friends, and non-school life need you. Don’t wear yourself out. Remember your alter-ego and save time for that other side of you! You are so amazing. Keep on teaching, Teacher!
Today I want to talk about Pete the Cat (a character in children’s books).
I teach sixth grade, and I know how this post will look to those who teach middle and high school. Just bare with me, though! I think the message is a good one. Please keep reading! 🙂
I have a four, almost five, year-old son. He is in 4k. I have been opened up to a whole new world. A world filled with play-learn stations, camp songs, and kids’ books. It has been a fun experience. I never thought it would be life changing.
Last week, I overheard my son being read to by his Nana. I wasn’t really paying attention until my son blurts out, “GOODNESS NO!” The way he said it cracked me up, so I listened in. It turned out to be a great little lesson for me, as a teacher (or human, for that matter). I read, reread, and read this book to my son since this, and we are often found saying, “Goodness no!” to each other throughout the day.
I thought it would be a great story to share, especially on Friday when most of us reflect on the week. Give a watch and listen, and the read on.
Did Pete cry? Goodness no!
I love that! I really do!
Okay, now that the story is over, what does this have to do with teaching?
We so very often get wrapped up in the “stuff” of teaching. Our lesson plans. Our classroom management. Our pacing. Our observations. Our teammate. Our administrators. Our classroom materials. Our pride in teaching. Our students’ test results. Our _______________…you fill in the rest.
When we get wrapped up in all of this and something goes wrong, it is so easy to fall into a “freak out” cycle. We may not cry, but our blood pressure rises. Our stress headaches start. Our patience flat-lines. We start to drop other things that matter because we lost something that has had an elevated priority for us. We slowly spiral out of control.
We can regain composure and get moving again. But then when something else goes awry, the cycle starts again. An easier way to say what the cycle is to say that we “cry.” Even if there is no tears.
This is, unfortunately, the norm for teachers. Talk to anyone for a while and you will see that we all have our “buttons” that make us “cry” when we lose them. We all have things that have become our focus that are important, don’t get me wrong, but still they are misplaced priorities. We have let ourselves lose focus (which is sounding like a theme for me here the last couple of weeks).
There are some teachers, though, that are more like Pete the Cat. Even-keeled. Stuff does not seem to bother them. AND they are reaching and teaching students like a champ.
What is their secret?
Do they “cry” when they lose their “buttons?”
They know that the classroom “stuff” will come and it will go.
They keep on singing their song.
And what is their song about?
I have said this a lot lately, but no matter how many times it is said it is never less true. Students are our goal. Who they are and what they need. This determines everything for us. They are who we are there for. They are more than “buttons.” They are the reason for teaching.
So, do we need to cry?
The other stuff will come and it will go.
The students are our song and we can keep on singing no matter what.
Simplistic? Easier said than lived out? Works on paper and hard in reality? Probably so. That does not mean it is not true. That does not mean it is not possible.
You can be “Pete the Cat.”
Keep on singing!
As you look back on the week, what buttons were lost? Do they matter in the grand scheme of things? Are you able to keep singing your student song?
You are awesome. You are Pete the Cat. Let those buttons go. They will come and they will go. Keep on singing, Teacher, and keep on teaching!
Same message as yesterday and last weekend…don’t forget to see the good and positive along with the “needs work” areas as you reflect on the week. You had some awesome in you this week and do did your students. Don’t forget to celebrate and take a little bow. You deserve to and have earned it! You rock because you are awesome! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
Share this encouragement with another teacher. He or she deserves it, too!
Today is Tuesday. You are back into the grind of another week. Tuesdays can be hard. If it is a rough, long day, it is really rough and long because the end of the week is still so very far away!
I hope today is not one of those days for you. As a matter of fact, don’t let it be. Take charge of this Tuesday. Make it yours! Don’t let stress and worries drag it down and away from you. Keep finding the positive. Keep remembering your goal (your students) and keep moving towards it.
Find a way to work with difficult students.
Check some things off of your “to-do” list.
Clean a pile or two off of your desk.
Get engagement from your students, no matter what it takes.
Get some student to connect “A” to “B”…and do so on their own.
Look in the mirror and remind yourself of your awesome.
Put some non-priorities on the back burner.
Focus, focus, focus on students and what they need.
Help students get just a little better at learning on their own.
Today is Tuesday. It is your day. Make it yours. Don’ let it slip away!
Here is my second attempt at an encouraging and/or motivational video. I like this one a lot better than the first. Have a watch and then share it with other teachers you think could use a shot of awesome!
So, Tuesday Teacher, remember that your awesome! You are awesome. You have awesome. Be awesome and share awesome with every student, teacher, parent, family member, administrator, support staff member you see…and be awesome to yourself.
You are amazing! Today will be yours. It is yours. I know you will make it yours! You are going to make a difference for at least one person today…probably more. I love the way you care so much for the people around you, especially your students. Show that care today. I know you will! Keep on teaching, you wonderful Teacher, you!
PS…Here is the first video, in case you missed it. Motivational ABCs – The Movie!