Encourage Other Teachers Even When School is Out for Summer

Sitting in my room listening to the silent spinning of the DVD as the graduation / senior movie renders for (hopefully) the last time.

I can hear the hum of my small refrigerator in my room. Funny, I put that fridge in during the second week of school and I've never noticed that hum.

I guess it is because this room is always full. Always noisy. Always bustling. And I'm always half stressed.

“Give me a cliff. I'm jumping.” is something I often say when I'm getting to THAT point.

That point seems to come a lot during the last month of school. I haven't been doing laundry because when I do, my broken washer leaks all over the kitchen floor and I'm stuck mopping too! Thank goodness Camilla is Flat. ;-) No cliffs.

2010-2011 Westwood Schools Photo Album

My Babies
As full time teacher of technology, IT Director, and IT Integrator, I try to keep this place running and work hard to be efficient. PowerSchool is my baby and I write the SQL reports and do the geek work. I cut all the PO's, write the plans, handle the emails, server set up. Gosh, what else?

But my babies are really these kids. These children.

So ends my ninth year of teaching. I hear the hum. This time it is my own humming. I'm humming zip-a-dee-do-dah. I thought I was supposed to whistle that one!

“It's the truth. It's actual. Everything is sat-is-factual.”

You Can't Fire Students
This job isn't perfect. No job is. It is much more stressful than the general manager job I had managing a cell phone market. I could fire people there. I can't fire students and I certainly can't fire their parents. I have to work with what I have.

I lay awake at night thinking and praying over kids. I cry over situations with my own children. I hunt down children who haven't turned in their work and send other young men into the bathroom to smoke them out of their hiding places. I work hard to put comments on their report cards and then rewrite the PowerSchool report cards when I realize that I was so tired I put the comments on the wrong period.

UX Help
Helping Each Other is Part of Teaching.
But one of the most important things for me is sitting down with you every morning. Before I begin my day in my office at home. I hear a hum there too. The flourescent light hums as I write to you. I hum as I think to myself: what will HELP teachers.

My inspiration is Mrs. Grace Adkins who started our learning lab. She is over 80 and has been here for almost the 40 years of Westwood. She rides her bike an hour a day. She is amazingly productive, sharp minded, and is probably the only other person here who has read the World is Flat. She came to me before she even knew we were in the book and asked if I'd read it!

I'd like to be like her. Would I be let to stay in the classroom for another 40 years and write to you as part of this journey? OH, what a joy that would be!

It would be so much easier to just travel and be at home, I guess. But would it hum? Would my life hum? Would everything be satisfactual? And really, would it be actual? Would I really know and breathe teaching like I do?


Living It and Writing the Journey Has Value for Other Journey-Goers
Sometimes the blog posts you like the most here are the ones that have left tears on the keyboard. It is hard to understand unless you live it. I love reading your posts as you live it too.

Hard to Explain Unless You've Been There

Yesterday I thought I was through with the graduation movie. I sat down to watch it and when I did I saw that for some reason the boys movie part was in low def and the girls were in hi def – as a result the boys movie was “eaten” in the rendering process and the result was garble. I was crushed. I had to cry. It was my fourth render. FOURTH! But even with school out, I still had people in my room.

I stiff-upper-lipped it and walked resolutely to the women's bathroom. I let loose a flood of tears.

(I don't like people to see me cry. If they saw me cry, I'd have to explain WHY I was crying and truly, no one would understand what I just said. To them making a movie is just making a movie. They have no idea that it meant I'd be over here until 6pm last night – back at 9:30 after the movie rendered and back here at 6 am this morning. In fact, I'm typing this right now as  I babysit the rendering process. )

So, the point for me here is that ONLY you out there who have made movies and know that anything weird during the rendering process makes you completely start over. YOU understand what it means that I had to make the movie in HI Def 5 times and that 5 times with a 3 -4 hour render time means 15-20 hours of time! You understand after it renders that I have to watch this thing AGAIN. YOU understand.

And that is the point of this blog, I guess. And that is why more teachers should blog or share.

Some say, “I'll inspire when I retire.”

And certainly, that is of value.

Inspire Before You Retire (and after)
But if you encourage other teachers (AND your students) WHILE you're experiencing the classroom, you become a living inspiration as long as you don't break your professional ethics of confidentiality and privacy and you keep your dirty laundry in the closet where it belongs – it HELPS us other teachers who are living it.  


I screwed up the other day when playing around with Tumblr and sent 10 tweets through. After apologizing and letting everyone know I screwed up, I got this really great tweet from Michael Mishaw.

Michael INSPIRED me and perhaps me letting people see me mess up and admitting it may have inspired others. (Or they may have unfollowed – either way, messing up is OK.) When we are real with ourselves and each other that sometimes when we teach we have an AWFUL day and nothing goes right but that sometimes we actually see we're making a difference. We give others permission to know it is OK.

As long as you're in the classroom or front office, you UNDERSTAND educators.

Certainly, as you do this long enough you will retain the indelible mark that teaching leaves on your soul and psyche and you will still UNDERSTAND, I believe even after you retire.

Liv-ING is INSPIRE-ing and you should be SHARE-ing it.
But I guess right now, I am UNDERSTAND-ing because I am LIV-ing and that can be INSPIRE-ing.

We are in this together, you and I, we teachers and educators.  Let's encourage each other.

You don't have to be a blogger to be inspiring.

  • Be an inspiring commenter. 
  • Be an inspiring tweeter. 
  • Be an inspiring Facebook-er or Tumblr. 
  • Be an inspiring person. 
  • Be real.  
  • Be the original. 
  • Be real.
  • Repeat what others need to hear.
  • Be real.

In your real-ness you CAN make a difference beyond your classroom

This is the beauty of social networking. If you can follow the right people you can have a network support group. You can have friends who understand in addition to your closest face to face friends and family (which you still need.)

Teaching is a Great Profession
My fridge has stopped humming. The movie is still rendering. The technology plan is beckoning me to finish it and I need to set up the email accounts for the teachers hired for next year. Lots to do still.

As tired as I am. This is still the greatest calling on earth next to being a parent. It is worth the pain.

On to the hum of ISTE11 and the eLearning Revolution Conference in Indiana in July. On to the hum of my fluorescent lights as I do the final submission for the Pearson book on global collaboration and crank out a few other things this summer. On to the hum of my cell phone vibrating as I talk to some of you and help you in any way I can.

“Zip a de doo dah. Zip-a-dee-aaay. My oh my what a wonderful way…”

to live your life. Teaching. A noble calling.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Ellen Bremen May 27, 2011 - 3:00 pm

I found this post so incredibly, incredibly inspiring and encouraging–on many levels. I know at the college level, I have amazing colleagues, but we so rarely talk in-depth about our craft, about the painful nuances of our craft, and we don’t talk enough about the moments that inspire us. I remember feeling almost nauseated about trying something very radical and new in my class (I don’t usually feel this way, but it was a first-day activity that would set the tone for the quarter–and something very different for me), and scrambling to call a couple colleagues for support.

I started blogging in April, not only because I am passionate about student-professor communication, but also as a way to show students that college professors are real adults who are also affected and impacted by the student-professor dynamic. My blog post this week about students dropping classes was a difficult one to write. At one point, I thought about pulling it down because I’d revealed too much. However, I know that what stings is exactly what needs to be shared.

I am very much enjoying your blog posts and appreciate seeing inside the heart of another educator in such a real way. And, by the way, I was your neighbor for four years:  From 2000-2004, my very first tenure-track post was at Darton College, Albany, Georgia. I desperately miss that campus and those colleagues. Look forward to following more posts. Ellen Bremen, M.A. @chattyprof http://chattyprof.blogspot.com

coolcatteacher May 27, 2011 - 3:13 pm

Wow, Ellen! I love what you say, “what stings is exactly what needs to be shared.”

I do have accountability partners – my curriculum director, my Mom, and my sister will ping me in the (rare) instance they think I may have crossed an invisible line and shared “too much” – it is a tough one. I love what you’re doing, Ellen and will follow your link and subscribe to your blog! We need more professors like you.

passionateteach May 27, 2011 - 10:45 pm

I wanted to comment on your movie blunders and the rendering…. I feel your pain and it is OK to cry about it because I am two short weeks away from the same process, as I make the 8th grade breakfast iMovie each year to showcase for all to see.. and I begin planning for it 5 months in advance.  I have learned through many heartaches that it will not work the first time or second or yes… even 5 times, as well as many hours, computers with pages taped to them, “please do not touch” and early entry to keep my fingers crossed that it was ready for me to load in DVD after DVD.  Nothing is as worrisome as when an error message pops up.  I also need to create it on a machine that will burn DVD’s, which is not my teacher computer, as it only burns CD’s.. .blah blah techie blah blah!  I wanted to let you know you are inspiring to many and it is through your sharing that we all learn.  Thank you for that and I try to emulate what I learn from you and all of the other wonderful teachers I follow through my PLN.  Thank you and yes I know how you are feeling! I will try to do better at sharing these experiences as well through my blog and hopefully inspire others!

Ellen Bremen May 27, 2011 - 11:01 pm

Thank you. I also linked your blog to mine, as well. If you have ideas on things that I could tell high school students about their transition to college or dealing with profs from a communication perspective, I’m all ears :-). I am enjoying your tweets and look forward to learning more. Say hello to GA for me!

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 1:07 am

Thank you for understanding. I am sitting here on the couch as my husband and son watch a history channel special about the civil war and I feel almost some sort of civil war in myself. Is the exhaustion I feel worth it? Did they enjoy the movie? Was it worth it? It is hard when no one has a clue that the film is almost like your blood and gutts on film- this is your life. I hope the pleasure through the years is worth it to them. Thank you for understanding! It helps not to feel alone! :-)

Vicki Davis
Sent from my iPad

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 1:09 am

Sounds like things to consider! I would like to hear from you and your professor friends about the most common issues they see in online spaces with college students. So many high schools do not have kids online because of fear and I have this thought in my mind that certainly professors are seeing huge gaps in the skills of kids who have exposure to online spaces versus those who don’t have access! Thanks for writing and responding!

Vicki Davis
Sent from my iPad

Elena Lee May 30, 2011 - 9:41 am

Yes i agree with article
i liked it

Comments are closed.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
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