Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Break for Birthdays (and Other Amazing Stuff)

Today, I pulled a Dove dark chocolate from the bag that the kid-who-has-trouble-coming-to-school-because-of-a-whole-host-of-reasons brought to me for my birthday, and the shiny sentiment inside the red foil wrapping was perfect for me, for all of us, for the concept of this blog, for teachers: "The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."

I took a week or so off from some of the "other" stuff I do. I wanted to mark the occasion of my fiftieth birthday with whatever extra time I could carve out for myself, and I was successful. But today I was reminded that the "praise and celebration" can't just be about me. That's why I started TeacherBites in the first place.

There's a platterful of blogs out there in which my esteemed (and light-years-brighter-than-me) colleagues delve into the edu-political landscape. Aside from the occasional poking of the snake or wee rant about the climate in my state and in this country, I've tried to stay away from arguing "our side." I believe in teachers' rights, I believe in educational reform based on reason, sensibility, and solid practice, but mostly, I just believe in teachers. I just do.

Teachers are amazing folks. We are sensitive, a trait that is sometimes mistaken for a weakness. I contend, though, that recognizing, embracing, and showing a weakness is truly a strength. Teachers care about our students' needs; that's why we spend our own money on classroom supplies, that's why we donate so freely on dress-down-for-charity Fridays, that's why we come early and stay late, that's why we chaperone, organize, advise, and confer, that's why we so often question ourselves and our practices. We care deeply, and thus, we feel hurt quickly and easily.

Sure, we can be worn down by Board decisions, administrative finger-pointing, misguided parents, surly students, and red tape. We are sensitive. But we cannot, and should not, criticize ourselves for that very quality that makes us so good at what we do. We cannot, and should not, apply more weight to the negative forces than we apply to the positive forces. We must, we always must, acknowledge our gifts, our talents, our strengths. It's a hard thing for us to do; we are way more comfortable shining that light on our students than on ourselves. But we deserve to stand in that light, too. And the more we allow ourselves to stand in that light, the brighter that light becomes. Praise and celebrate. Praise and celebrate!!

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