Tuesday, November 25, 2014

thankful--the teacher's edition

It's still sort of surreal--thinking of myself as an actual full-time contracted teacher.  I've been out of the game so very long, and then just playing at it for even longer.  It feels fake, I dress up every day and go pretend in this classroom that I actually know something about educating America's youth.  I mean, the ache in my neck from staying up late to grade papers is awfully real to me, but the rest still surprises me.  Like seeing my name by a mail slot in the staff room.  Or using a key card to get inside the building.  Yesterday I brought my reading group to the library to check out books and the librarian discovered I AM NOT IN THE SYSTEM.  I was not eligible to check out books because I HAVE NOT BEEN ASSIGNED A NUMBER.  (To be clear, the library man is not shouty--he's very mild-mannered.  The computer system, however, is another story.)  I don't have a real staff ID, I'm still "Staff 001" on my generic key card.  I'm a glitch in the system.

But I'm thankful for God placing me here, for all kinds of reasons.  Here's a list of cool stuff I've discovered that makes me feel very grateful:

61. It doesn't feel like work, which means it must be something I'm rather good at doing.
62. That Keurig Mr. D got me last year for Christmas.  I know, I know, they're environmentally bad, blahblahblah.  But for my 1:30 cup of coffee, it works perfectly for my vital caffeine fix between 6th and 7th hour.
63. Teenagers.  They slay me.  Their clothes, their humor, their music, their taste in movies, their obsession with video games and social media all amuse me.  Even the eye-rolling, huffing and puffing and SO disgusted with the world ones in 6th hour.  Catch them one on one and they're each likeable in their own way and pretty harmless.  Especially if you use a low voice and say soothing, complementary things to them.
64. When I hand back papers marked up and the students read my comments and say stuff like "Thank you. Thank you for writing this about my work."  I mean, my GOODNESS!
65. Crash Course.  It's really fantastic for the quick mini-lesson before launching into meaty stuff like Founding Brothers.  I could sit and watch these videos all day long. 
66. Heck, the whole internet for the quick answers and visuals, like images of Alexander Hamilton and what's the story behind Catiline.
67. Talking about books with people who read and enjoyed them, too.
68. Seeing a student really put in the effort and nail an assignment.
69. Glossing over grading because everybody got it right the first time around.
70. To a degree, online gradebooks.  I mean, sometimes I still occasionally enter the data wrong, but at least I don't have to crunch all the numbers myself hunched over a calculator.  The program does THAT part for me automatically.  Every time.  Genius!
71. Administrators who don't bog their teachers down with red tape and committees and busy work.
72. Parents who support their kids' education.
73. To that end, e-mail.  I can reach out to a parent or student at any convenient time and they can do the same.  And for all the ways that e-mails lack the emotion of face-to-face or phone conversations.  Objective is better.  And more efficient.
74. When I say something once, everyone hears me and takes it seriously and I don't have to repeat it.
75. When the class is fully engaged and we get interrupted by the bell at the end of the hour. 
76. And even more wonderful is when the kids remark on it--"This class always feels short to me." That's great!
77. Discovering things about my students--one is a race car driver, one started a CYO basketball league, one has a young daughter, one watched their family barn go up in smoke, one sings like an angel, one has a wickedly funny twitter feed.  They each have their unique story and I have a front row seat to their lives as a writing teacher. 
78. Watching a kid do something exceptionally well, especially when I didn't expect it.
79. A Xerox machine that never, ever jams or breaks down.
80. Feeling like I did something useful every day.  I come home pretty tired, but I'm always ready to head back and face first hour the next morning.  What happens in Room 212 helps about 130 kids and I find that rewarding. 

Spill it, reader.  What are you really good at doing?  Does it make you happy to do it?


  1. Apparently I'm really good at taking care of my family. They thank me on a daily basis for things like ironing a pair of pants, packing a lunch and doggy sitting when my daughter teaches.

    If you had asked me all my life until age 18 what I wanted to do with my life it was ALWAYS "be a mom".

    My daughter the Special Needs teacher is thankful for the parents who send her little thank you notes to tell her how much their kids are loving school this year. They want her to know how excited the kids are to come home and say "Ms Perry helped me finally understand this today!"

  2. Phenomenal list! I love #63 and 64, especially. Teenagers crack me up, too, when they're not exasperating. Also: knowing the feedback matters.

    I also grinned hugely and nodded at the joys of the online grade book. GAD, but old school number crunching was the biggest bummer of the Christmas season for me!

    What am I really good at doing? Frittering away time online. Swooning over rare and fine prose. Helping people who need to cry find a way into their tears.

  3. Fantastic list of the best things in life. Loving what we do gives us such an advantage over others as we navigate the shoals of life. Happy Short Week!

  4. I love this list, especially 61, 71, 72, 76, and 80. You were obviously meant to be a teacher.

    I'm good at my job. Parts of it still intimidate me, but I love bringing together all of the details each week (usually gathered from several other people and sources) to make a bulletin that allows everyone to participate in the worship service and life of the church. The bulletin is like a mini-newsletter as well as the order of worship, with lyrics, prayers, and Bible verses printed so that shut-ins can feel like they didn't miss church when they open their mail.
    I've also discovered that my inability to remember numbers for very long is extremely helpful for my piece of mind when dealing with giving statements and entering donations/offerings into QuickBooks. I get the job done, and then I wipe my mind clear so that numbers are not what I see when I look at people.

  5. Good for you, it doesn't feel like work, HA!
    I liked teaching high school too, except for the political, administrative and parental baloney
    I am good at and it makes me happy: I am very thankful and grateful and FORTUNATE to work as an artist, able to deisgn my own work and work day, which is the ultimate indeed.....

  6. I think that's wonderful, and I am thankful for teachers like you. Personally, I had a difficult childhood, and thinking back on some of the teachers that stood out, the ones with careful critiques or praises I can remember to this day made life so much easier.


  7. What a great list. If it doesn't feel like work, then you're in the right place! Happy Thanksgiving :-)

  8. Your #74 - really? That does not happen for me at home. Reading your list today makes me hopeful. It is a Good Thing for the world that there are teachers (like you) who love their job and are good at it. A teacher who likes the students s/he teaches is gold. And it is a Good Thing that there are students who are engaged and interested in learning.

    I never feel like I am really good at my job (the paid one) but I mostly like it. I am good at finding things in the refrigerator.

  9. When teaching is fun, you know it's right.

  10. I love your list and the positive focus. I'm good at taking care of my family, and I'm proud of that. I'm a good writer. Both are enjoyable to me, and I'm grateful that I get to do these things.

    Blessings to you, Melissa.


Spill it, reader.