Monthly Archives: November 2017

We Are Teachers

Hey student, we see you.  Hunched over your paper, with that dazed expression on your face.  We see you slouched behind that screen pretending to work on something other than your fantasy football line up.  We see you.

I know this isn’t the easiest time in your life.  Things don’t always make sense.  You are traveling at the rate of hyper-speed through a tumultuous corridor in your development.  It’s bound to be a bit bumpy.  I wish I could tell you that everything is going to work out alright.  I just don’t know that.  What I do know is that you will make it through.  Of that I am certain.  I am standing at the other end of that hallway now.  It’s easier for me to see the light.

And I’m not going to tell you I’ve been there.  I haven’t.  I mean, I have been your age, but not your age now.  That’s different.  The forces are stronger.  They are more pervasive.  You are rarely completely still; you are driven to distraction.  That ray of light that emanates from that screen sends you adrenaline doses well into the night.  Your conversations with your friends really never end.  Communicating without any of the intimacy, you are compelled to respond and engage, fearing the oblivion of silence.  I would have been afraid too.

We see you.  I know you believe no one truly does.  You hide behind that mask.  You play the part.  Sometimes the performance is masterful.  Other times, you forget your lines.  When everything feels so immediate, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.  Your emotions are an extremely important part of your DNA, but they are lousy decision makers.  Too often, you let what you feel dictate the next move.  You get better at discerning the difference.  I promise.

We don’t always tell you this, but we love you.  We really do.  We are human, not stone.  We get weary and worn.  Papers pile up.  Checklists get longer.  Objectives, plans, and test dates loom.  Preparedness.  Organization.  Repetition.  Too often, we let these inform the culture of our classrooms.  The stakes are high.  Believe you me.  We trade in souls here, not currency.  This is the marketplace of human development and social change.  We are on the front lines.  No, this job is not for the faint of heart.

We see you, student.  We don’t have to play games.  We know when you cheat your own potential and falter under the weight of unrealistic expectations.  We know the social sacrifices it takes to have integrity.  We see you struggling every day to become . . . .well, you.  Hang in there.

We are teachers, and we see you.

 

 

 

 

 

Leftovers

I hate it when I give the worst version of myself to the people who matter the most.

Pulling into the driveway on a Friday afternoon, I turn my car off and for a few moments, leave my hands on the wheel. Like most teachers at the end of the week, I’m fried. I can feel it to my core. Truth be told, I could go all slow motion, fall face forward onto the bed, and not get back up until Sunday afternoon. But through that door, responsibility awaits. Not the kind of responsibility that is informed by a salary. The kind that have arms and legs, the kind that have stomachs that need to be filled, the kind who desire you to engage with them, play with them, listen to them, and encourage them. Inside that door are rooms piled with the tornadic debris of an activity-filled week. Mounds of laundry. Uncleaned dishes. Mail . . . I mean, bills . . . piled up eye level, challenging you to look the other way. The water heater breaks. Your dryer lurches across the floor to no avail; it’s been working a “mostly damp” cycle for at least three months. You can’t remember the last time you opened the refrigerator and the light turned on.  Life, man.

You take a deep breath, get out of the car and open the door on that life you chose. The life you love. The only problem is there is very little of you living it. You drag your irritable, exhausted, mentally spent corpse into the house and attempt to weakly connect with the people on this planet, who by their very existence, make your life worth living. They get your seconds, your left-overs, your “maybe tomorrow, baby, I’m just so tired.” They get your zoned out stare, your pent up exasperation, your “I’m sorry, I’ve brought work home tonight.” They get the sick you, the worried you, the angry you, the frustrated you. And you know what?  They don’t deserve it.  Not even a tiny bit.

I’m not sure when we got things all turned around. When we decided to raise the value of our ambitions and diminish the vitality of our humanity. We haven’t always been this way. But we do it all the time. We bow at the altar of our busyness and call it success while sacrificing the only tangible evidence that we ever existed at all, our relationships.  So dumb.

So, here’s to dialing it down in the places that feed our egos and raising the volume in the places that feed our souls. Here’s to looking people in the eye and honest conversation. Here’s to lingering over a meal and hanging out on the back porch. Here’s to throwing the football or reading that favorite story. Here’s to uninterrupted interpersonal connection. Work to live, but don’t live to work.  Let’s be done with our self-righteous excuses.  If you take a quick look around the landscape of your life, you will find any number of reasons to give your very best to the people who love you when you don’t deserve it.  And believe me, they will always be worth it.