Monday, August 10, 2009

Birthdays, Bread, and Buddies....and Burn Out

On Thursday, I celebrated a birthday. I am now officially, "half of 90 years old" as my wife so sweetly puts it. I did not mention my birthday to anyone and was intending on keeping it a quiet didn't quite work that way. My niece put a note on my Facebook wall, and I made a smart comment back.... five phone calls and many messages later, it was a birthday!

Today, as I was reading an article that was referenced in many blogs about a teacher who taught for four years and is leaving the profession, citing "Burn out." The author discusses many things that do lead to new teachers being tested to their limits. Administrators are always adding more work load and there are students who can't read. While she makes many good points, she misses the most important reason to NOT leave the classroom.....students. I remember a quote from several years ago and I apologize to the source, "Teachers who are burned out have probably never been on fire."

Back to my birthday.... Things that day started to take a sour turn. A present I had bought my great niece (and birthday buddy) was defective and, after a nasty phone call to customer disservice, I returned it to the store and purchased a different brand. Then a wonderful experience changed the increasingly bad tone the day was starting to take... One of my wife's students brought me over a birthday gift. It was a surprise and it's like that amazing girl knew me very well....A freshly baked loaf of bread. My favorite thing in all the world. The bread was still warm and, let me tell you, the best bread I have had in a very long time. But what was really incredible was that there was a gift at all. The student had been on a trip and brought back some special souvenirs for my wife also. Such an unexpected and wonderful surprise...

You know, teaching is a tough...SO many demands and SO little time. High expectations and low time contributions and concern from parents. Leaders who do not lead. A broken system that uneducated (in how schools work) legislators try to fix by increasing demands and enforcing bizarre testing rules. So, yeah, I get it, teaching is hard. But, you know what? It's dang rewarding.

YES, I get stressed out and tired and worn out... Yes, I even lose my temper and get disheartened. But, I wouldn't trade a loaf of bread from a great kid for anything in the world. That is why I keep doing what I do. I have had the privilege of working with some amazing students...and so has my wife. It really makes it all worth while.

SO, maybe sometimes we need to take a step back. Appreciate the AMAZING people we get to work with and enjoy our profession. If you are waiting around for other adults to 'get it', you will be disillusioned and sad. Kids get it. When you care about them, they return that. It's a pretty good way to spend your life.

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