Hang in There, Everybody! Part Three

Keep hanging in there.  

I know it’s hard to be a teacher.

It’s especially hard to be one of “those teachers.”

Which, you might just well BE one of “those” teachers.

I know I am.

The kind that get onto their “latest obsession” and then spend days and days and weeks and weeks soaking up whatever they can find, reworking everything, or at least dreaming about it.  Planning for next year.  When things will be different.  Better.  

Once, in about 2009, I found “Power Teaching.”  Now it is called “Whole-Brain Teaching.”  I fell deep into it, and reorganized my whole Social Studies classroom around it, and obsessively watched videos and read blog posts and even drove from Nevada to California to attend a conference about it.  

Yeah, I’m “that kind of teacher.”

When I found CI in 2004, I cleaned out the shelf where Krashen’s books were in the library at Portland State University, and watched every video I could (there weren’t many back then), and immediately changed everything about my college courses, or as much as I could, with the section head breathing down my neck and the common assessments and constant evaluation and scrutiny we were under.

That kind.

That’s the kind of teacher you are too, I wager.  You’re the kind that is on Facebook on the weekend, reading teacher posts instead of looking at hilarious memes and funny cat videos.  

I bet you are “that kind of teacher” too.  

The kind that sort of believe, deep down somewhere, that there is some system, or method, or tool, or strategy that will reach into our school systems and grab us all by the scruff of the neck and shake us out of the torpor that oozes from the walls of classrooms and the halls of schools all across this planet.

The kinds who dream of an education that builds everyone up, makes everyone proud, makes people want to be in our classrooms.

An education that makes even US, the teachers, want to BE in our classrooms.  

An education that makes us fired up about our calling, our true calling.

Our true calling isn’t about languages.

Our true calling is about the soul.

Somehow, we were all called to take care of the soul of the next grownups to take over this planet.

Languages were just the shiny object that got us to wake up to our calling.  

We are not teaching languages, not really.  We are really teaching people.

And you are one of “those teachers.”  The kind that see that.  The kind that still, after all the indignities and all the disrespect and all the stress, and the trauma, and the name-calling, and the harsh reality, the kind that is still, still growing, still learning, looking, searching for a way to bring joy and connection and REALNESS to your classroom and your students’ lives and, thereby, to the future of our poor, beleagured, planet that is literally burning up in front of our eyes.

I know it’s not easy.

I know it takes a toll on your social life, your family life, your “me time.”

I know it’s a sacrifice.  An investment of your already-limited resources.  Your time, your energy, your attention, your finances.

I know what it is to be at your daughter’s swim lesson, and instead of cheering her on, or snapping pictures, to be reading a book or blog about your latest teaching obsession.

I know what it is to get super fired-up about a new idea or approach and to be shot down by colleagues and bosses who do not seem to even care.  I know what it is to have to fit your passion, and your creativity, and your excitement, and your vision, and your differentness, into the system.

And know that the system isn’t working for the people in it.

It’s frustrating.

It drives teachers, good teachers, the BEST ones, out of the profession.

It haunts us.

It makes our jobs many, many times harder.  It makes our innovation and passion COST us more.

Not only do we have to learn to teach, but then we all have to tinker with what we have learned, and chip away at it and modify it, and diminish it, to fit on the Procrustean bed of “fitting into the scope and sequence/common assessments/ textbook chapter/PBIS/Response to Intervention/Common Core/whatever our bosses, in their infinite wisdom are on about this year, or this semester, or this month.”

It’s hard.

And yet you come back to this group, back to other teacher groups.  And you still dream, still tinker, still do whatever you can, to elevate your teaching.

Because you’re that kind of teacher.

I’m sorry it’s so hard.  I’m sorry about the lost sleep.  I’m sorry the system doesn’t generally work for people, and people have to work for the system.   

But still, you persist.  You go on.  

Thank you.

Thank you for being That Kind of Teacher.

Hang in there.  Take it easy on yourself.  

Things are changing.

It’s slow, imperceptible, piecemeal, and haphazard.  But things ARE changing.

My hero is Lucy Calkins.   I have followed her work in literacy education for almost 20 years.  

She has transformed the landscape.  An army of dedicated literacy teachers, across the nation, across the planet, spread and reinforce her vision, equipped with her infectious passion, her fiery words, and with practical materials to implement it, and with evidence of its effectiveness, and with a common set of tools and ways to describe their practice.

That did not happen overnight.  But it was teachers like us, you and me, “those teachers,” who have made Lucy’s vision the “new normal” in school after school, district after district.  

It will happen.  And here we are, DOING THE WORK.

Thank you, hang in there, play the long game with me.

You are worth it.  Your career is worth it.  And, most of all, our students are worth it.

Mil gracias.  Merci mille fois.  

Je vous adore.  Continuons à lutter.  Continuons à jouer.

Continuons à aimer et a songer et à rêver et à travailler, à apprendre, à chercher.

1 thought on “Hang in There, Everybody! Part Three

  1. Stefanie

    Thank you for writing this. I needed to hear it. I’m recently back from maternity leave and some students have not been receptive. I was surprised because I was their teacher last year. I couldn’t place why it bothered me so much but you hit the nail on the head here. I care so much about the students and work so hard to find ways to reach them.


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