This is going to be a quick one! I, like you, have a zillion things to accomplish and the time to finish about three! Thus is the life of a teacher. Too much to do…and not near enough time to even think about how do to half of what needs to be done let alone get any of it done!
And that is what I want to talk about. What do we do when we have too much to do.
We just do.
It is old and tiresome to quote, but I feel like I need to mention something that the Chinese philosopher, Lau-tzu said a long, long, long time ago:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
We have a thousand miles to move every day as a teacher. It is overwhelming, to say the least. But we can’t let this stop us. We can’t. Our students need us. So we just need to start.
We need to take a step.
You get it.
We need to move.
Sometimes movement is the best we can do. Sometimes we can only muster up the energy, strength, and time for a single step…other times it might be seventeen…we might even be able to go a few miles. No matter how far we go, we just need to move. We need to step. We need to go.
You may not get far today, but just move.
Oh, and make sure your students and their needs are you destination!
So what are you waiting for? Just move!
You are tired, but you are awesome! It is hard, but you can do it! Don’t stop! Don’t give up! Keep going, Teacher, and keep on teaching!
I don’t know how this week has been for you, but it has been a tough one for me. It is only halfway through summer, but I am already getting a bit overwhelmed with everything that I need to get done before school starts (not to mention all of the summer chores to get done here at home). This is coupled with trying to pick myself back up after finding out the state test scores from last school year. I want it to be a motivation to try to streamline and learn from my mistakes for next year, but it still takes a bit of the wind out of your sails.
Have you been where I am? Excited about planning and setting expectations for the new year, but also a bit overwhelmed and pre-defeated by the staggering odds against you? It is hard. It is like setting a goal to climb a mountain, but standing at the bottom of it and seeing how impossible it feels to do so.
We make big plans and set huge goals for ourselves and our students for the next year. We get psyched up and amped up as we plan and see all the possibilities. Then reality hits us. We think about what hasn’t worked in the past. We start to wonder if our students will buy-in. We think of all the obstacles in the way of our goals. We start to wonder if the hard work of planning in a new direction is worth it. It gets hard to focus on the details needed because the climb seems so daunting. We won’t give up, but something inside wants us just to do what we did last year or wing it. I am at that point. How about you? I will push through it, but I am just there.
But I won’t give up, and I will keep going. So will you. And you know why? It is because we know a secret. It is this secret that we live by in these times, and it is this secret we hope to pass on to our students.
There is a often quoted, and probably cliche, Chinese proverb by Laozi that sums up the secret. Here is the traditional translation:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Or, another translation:
The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.
The secret is this. No matter the odds or the pain of disappointment, we keep moving. We set a destination and move towards it. We power through. We keep taking the steps. No matter the situation. We know where we need to go, and we keep trying to get there. Step by step. Even if those steps are baby steps at times, we keep going. We keep soldiering on!
In my case, I am looking for the little things I can do to push me forward. I am trying to break my big goals into smaller steps. I am finding little areas of planning that are very real and easy. This way, as I am pushing through the hard parts of starting the climb I am still moving in very real and measurable ways. In a few days or a week, I will be able to look back and see that I am actually gaining ground. That will push me to keep climbing!
What about you? What are you doing? Are you planning for the next year? Are you still teaching right now and in one of those spots that happen during a school year? What do you need to focus on? What little steps can you take to keep you taking the big steps?
Sorry for the shortened and less regularly timed messages this week. We have been working on a big project at my house. We are putting in our own hardwood floors with a little help from some friends. This is where most of my time has gone this week. 🙂
I have learned something from this home project, and it reminds me of teaching. I have learned/remembered that jobs are not always easy. It takes work. You get tired. You get stressed. You have obstacles. You get frustrated. You want to stop. You have to keep going (or not have a kitchen for longer than that is a good idea). You push through. It seems impossible…until you push through that wall and it slowly starts to seem possible…and after a while it almost seems easy…until you are glad that you started the process in the first place.
The kitchen looks good now, but it didn’t for a while. This has been a long week, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel this morning. I feel good, and I could almost see myself taking on a project like this. It is amazing how this transformation happens…from impossible to possible to easy…and sometimes in a very short time.
Think about your toughest year at school, your toughest classes, your toughest students. It was hard. It was stressful. It seemed impossible. You wanted to quit. But you didn’t. You pressed on. You kept going. You made it through. In the end, you probably found that you learned something, you found out more about yourself, and you became a better teacher. It did not feel good going through it, but you felt better in the end once you survived. In the end you were stronger for having gone through the year that you did.
Remember this as you look forward to another year (or right now if you are not on summer break). Nothing lasts for ever, and you CAN persevere. You have made it through before, and you can do it again. What ever you are going through will be worthwhile in the end! You can do it, and it WILL make you a better teacher. Keep going and never give up!
You are an awesome and amazing teacher. You don’t give up and you make something beautiful in the end. You are making such a difference because you do press on through everything! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
PS…Today is the last day for the giveaway at the Facebook page. You need to comment with your story by the midnight tonight (July 5th, 2013). Go check it out and share if you haven’t!