A week ago, I called a close friend to touch base and hear how he’d been doing.
When he asked me how I’d been doing, I was honest.
I am frustrated.
Frustrated that my students won’t heed my advice on how to be successful, frustrated that I can’t teach how I think I need to, frustrated by tests that I think are developmentally beyond my third graders.
He reminded me of this. I am reminding you of the same and a few more this holiday season.
So, here’s five reminders I hope you’ll remember as you take time away from the classroom.
#1: In the movie, Heartbreak Ridge, Army Medic Desmond Doss asks God to grant him safety so that he can rescue one more soldier left behind enemy lines.
“Just one more,” he says out loud. “Just one more.”
Doss returns again and again onto the battleground seeking a fallen soldier to drag out by his coat or carry upon his shoulders to safety.
It’s what we teachers hope for. Just one more, Lord, please let us reach one more and allow our efforts to change a life.
When my friend reminded me of the film, I knew right away he was dead right.
As I tried to focus on my class, I had forgotten about the individual student and the impact I had been making. An impact of which I needed to be reminded.
Know that you have been reaching your students, even if you don’t see it every moment.
#2: I had a student visit during the midst of our Holiday Party.
She is now a senior and waiting to hear back about her college applications. From what she shared, it sounds like she’s well on her way toward a successful education in hopes of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
Orthopedic surgeon? Wow.
I have to admit that when I asked her what she remembered from her 5th grade experience, she couldn’t recall much. However, when I prompted her… the memories came back.
She remembered friends she had made, lessons taught, antics at the front of the room.
Know that you’re making a difference beyond what you might imagine.
#3: I’ve been frantically trying to do all things exactly right these last few months.
Actually, punishing myself is a better way to put it.
Trying to prove to a new administration that I am a valuable.
Wanting them to see that I am someone who is interested in changing his teaching to what others want to see in action. It’s been exhausting and more than a little stressful.
And then I saw this simple sentence on a post which took me by surprise because it struck a chord within me.
Be ok with the fact that you don’t have to be perfect to make a difference.
Please remember that your best efforts really will be exactly what your students need.
#4: Be at peace.
The frantic last week of shepherding students through their end of the year exams is over. You’ve finalized the teaching that had to be finished before the new year begins.
Take time to sit back and close your eyes.
Don’t think about school.
Be present at home.
Be at peace knowing that you’ve done good work.
#5: Get some rest and do something for yourself.
Many of my colleagues have posted on social media that they’ve gone to doctors, fallen ill as the last week of school ended, or are slowly recovering from surgery — this is the time they chose to finally get that operation.
Who does that? Who schedules their operation during their vacation?
My colleagues, please take some time to rest and remember to spoil yourself.
You can only take care of your students if you take care of yourself first.
So grab another cup of coffee and drink it before it gets cold. You don’t need to rush out the door. You don’t need to think about school the moment you wake up in the morning.
Enjoy your time.
Happy Holidays my friend.