When I was a new college student, I got a job at a retail department store near my house. I quit the other retail store I was working at because I was starting to feel pressure from managers about not opening enough store credit card accounts each month. I was 18 years old and just not comfortable schmoozing people into opening up a store account when they didn't want one. So, I left one sales position for another.
I hated it almost instantly. At my other job, I worked in the costume jewelry department. I was allowed to go to the ladies room when I needed to without asking permission. I was trained to handle transactions with the register. At my new job, I was stationed in the sock and handbag department for hours on end. I was not on the register. I was not allowed to go to the ladies room if I needed to without a complicated permissions procedure. There are only so many socks one can fold for hours on end without going crazy. I knew right away that this job was a mistake.
My second day there, I was utterly miserable. I needed money to help pay for expenses as a college student (living at home and commuting), but nothing was worth this misery! I told the managers I would finish my shift but wouldn't be coming back.
At my college, I noticed a job posting on a bulletin board. It was for a project assistant at and office in the National Center for Disability Services, which also houses the Henry Viscardi School. My uncle had been working there for years and used to take me there in the summers to volunteer in classrooms. It was a school I adored. The project assistant position would be helping put together a manual on Early Intervention Services.
I applied for the position and got it! The job was a fabulous learning experience. Instead of standing on my feet staring at a bin of socks, I would sit in an office and help type articles, make phone calls, send letters- all while learning more about how Early Intervention works. I'm a fast typist today because of all the articles I had to type then. The job paid far better, was more interesting and I got to see my uncle sometimes too!
I was reminded of this story this weekend when I chatted with a dear friend who finds herself miserable doing work that she hates. I think when you walk away from what is not for you, doors will open for what IS for you. I believe better opportunities await and life is too short to spend each day feeling awful. Taking a leap is hard but I think you have to have faith in yourself that you will find what is meant for you. I'm hoping my friend chooses happiness over the security of a job that makes her stressed, anxious and sad.
Monday, September 18, 2017
I used to give homework packets to my five year old students and not let them play centers on Friday if it wasn't completed.
Now I don't assign traditional homework to my 3rd graders and want my students to look for learning opportunities all around them. And read- always, I want them to read. (Write, too). But I'm not checking a log or counting sentences written in a notebook.
I used to have elaborate clip charts that announced to the world who was "on green" for being a good listener and who fell, yet again, to red because he couldn't behave.
I used to give points and Dojo dollars to students who could focus and attend and take points away from the kids who couldn't get it together.
Now I work to build relationships and community and try my hardest never to shame a child, never to publicly put a clothes pin on a sign that announces a difficult day or a poor choice. I speak of our classroom community and not behavior management.
I used to have a treasure chest full of plastic prizes.
Now I look to tell kids what I honestly appreciate about them and their actions.
I used to think of the classroom as "mine" and filled it with pictures of my life- my family, my wedding, all on my big teacher desk.
Now I think of the classroom as "ours" and mostly "theirs" and I have no teacher desk and I keep my family pictures at my house.
I used to have all my book bins labeled by letter and told students which bin they could shop from.
Now I have most of my bins as genres and authors and just a few bins with levels. I encourage my students to make thoughtful book selections and I help them when they don't.
I used to think I would "arrive" one day as the perfect teacher, with everything laminated and prepared, perfectly ready to carry out my lessons.
Now I know I will never be the perfect teacher and will always be working to learn more and when I know better, do better.
Monday, September 4, 2017
How lucky to have a job where each year, I get a clean slate and a fresh start.
How lucky to have a job where I can restore my energy each summer, enjoying precious moments of time with my own children.
How lucky to have a job where I walk into an empty classroom and then make it come alive with the special touches I bring.
How lucky to have a job where I get to know children from all cultures and backgrounds and ability levels. How much there is to learn from all of them.
How lucky to have a job where I can dance and laugh, be silly and wacky.
How lucky I am to read aloud stories that captivate the hearts and minds of young people each day.
How lucky I am to share my passion for writing and help young students believe there is a writer in them, too. Their words are worth sharing.
How lucky I am to share my own struggles and mistakes and let students know that there is no learning without taking risks, falling down, and getting back up again.
How lucky I am to be in a community of educators who give of themselves, share generously, and make a difference each day.
How lucky I am to make a living doing my dream job.
How lucky I am to be a teacher.