I get up every Saturday WAY before I have to. I have my workouts that need to be completed before I can move on with the day. “Workouts” because I am in the gym working out by at least 6:30 but at 7 with my computer open on one bench I begin my brain workouts, my twitter education chats. This, of course, adds time to my workout schedule but I do get both done. Today I had a few great moments of learning as I went through the various chats over the 2 hours or so I was dialed in. I wanted to share them tonight after I let them cook for a while through the day.
Help people warm themselves
Let me start by saying I think it is very important to care for each other and as teachers, we always put ourselves before our students, or at least most of the time. I went to a great PD session on compassion fatigue which I have spoken about before and I have always had this line by Dr.Jody Carrington stuck in my head, “We cannot light ourselves on fire to keep others warm” she repeated this a few times and each time it was like a big collage of ideas just flashed before my eyes. All the times I was exhausted but still at work until the wee hours of night, planning the perfect pintrest lessons and getting everything set out, the times I gave my lunch away because students did not have theirs, the hours coaching, or after school helping or…the list goes on and one and as teachers we tell ourselves it all comes with the territory and that is true. But we have to remember to keep an eye on ourselves because at some point we will run out of fuel for them and in turn, we will have run out for ourselves and we are the only fuel left well, “We cannot light ourselves on fire to keep others warm”. So what do we do? We teach our students how to find their own fuel, to speak for themselves, to tell their stories and build connections so that they can help themselves some of the time. So that we can trust they can succeed without us holding them up, to know that they will stumble but that because of our work and support they will get back up. It can’t always fall on our shoulders or eventually, the weight will be too great. Spend time focusing on yourselves fellow teachers. We can’t always be there for every crisis, every fall, every misstep but if we guide our students to be resilient, to add fuel to their own fires, we will have the energy to be there when they need it most.
Salt might look like sugar but no one is putting Salt in their coffee…
I follow Michele Kelly on the twitter and today she made this great post about Trust saying, “Be careful who you trust, even salt looks like sugar.” This stood out to me but not in the way it was intended. My thoughts instantly went to educational practices. As teachers, we see cute little things, those sweet Pinterest penguin units or the handy 60 page Novel studies that measure everything from vocab to power sentences, to character traits and then you get to make a sweet diorama. Or the TPT flood that is making designers millions with their meaningless activities that are so easy to cut out, get laminated and use for years and years, they even claim they are engaging. Or better yet those computer programs that promise to build superior reading comprehension. These all look so good, and that is the point, the creators of all these things want you to be drawn in by the appearance but just like Michele said, salt looks like sugar. The real sugar, the real sweet stuff, the real worthwhile joyous work comes from interaction, comes from engagement and connection. Time at the table reading, writing and solving equations, not with some prepackaged unit (I have done it before too) not with some computer program and a robot voice but with a human being, activities generated for YOUR students, that you know, not for all students because it has a 5 star rating on TPT. As teachers, we complain about pre-assembled PD or learning opportunities and yet we buy a ton of workbooks, and other things because they are easy and keep students occupied, but I do not want my students occupied I want them engaged. Let’s stop selling salt as sugar to our students, they will eat it because they have to, but they sure won’t like it.
Some quick thoughts. So funny how a few lines here and there can really make a person think.