Smiling faces friendly greetings
Lots and lots of meetings
Energy all around
The excitement is here
for a new school year.
Okay, so my poem is cheesy, but it really represents the tone at my school now during preplanning. My cynical side is not fueled because the tone is positive and the energy is palpable. I find myself rejuvenated and ready (well, not really because there is still much to do). Interesting how the right people in the right place can make all the difference in a school’s culture and climate. Interesting how a tone shift can transform people. Next week I will begin my 19th year of teaching, and I feel like the cynicism that has stalked me for years cannot find a home or even temporary shelter in me.
At a recent meeting away from school, I had a conversation with a cynical someone who often pushes my buttons. Instead of disengaging, I engaged, and our conversation went in a positive direction. Driving home after the meeting I wondered how much of the cynicism of past conversations I have fed succumbing to the negativity and allowing others to pull me down. Sometimes I internalized the unkind words, yet other times I would lash out. In retrospect, I think that many times the way I react to that negativity causes it to fester. I’d rather be the balm that heals than the bacteria that infects. Otherwise, I am in danger of being the negative one infecting the climate.
A few days ago, a former student and her sister (college and high school) came by to see me. Both are considering teaching, and both have had several teachers try to talk them out of the profession. Not this teacher.
I’d like to think that as long as I’m still teaching I will be passionate and optimistic in spite of the challenges I face. I look at the faces of future teachers and new teachers and see potential and passion. Why would I try to dissuade anyone (who has what it takes) from going into teaching? We need these people. Our students need these people.
If I lose my passion, lose my optimism, or become a naysayer, then I’d like to think I would find something else to do with my days. Yes, I can list the litany of challenges teachers face with a negative spin on them, and I could possibly talk someone out of teaching. Conversely, I could talk about the challenges we as teachers embrace putting our hears, souls, and minds into reaching and teaching kids. Also, I could put my time and energy into working with others as we find ways to turn challenges into successes.
Last week, I drove through the downtown traffic for three days. I thought about what else I could have done, who else I could have become. I thought about hour lunches with clients instead of 20 minutes to wolf down my food in a school cafeteria. I asked myself what if I had to do all over again. Unequivocally I could answer that I would still choose this (and not just because of the Atlanta traffic). Each day I make the choice, and I choose to teach.
Yes, I still choose this.