Finishing well is a lifelong habit. It requires discipline. There are those who have lifelong careers of excellence and yet they pack their bags three or four years before they retire and muss up a legacy. Don’t pack your bags too soon.
“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…”
When you’re on vacation, I can tell you when it ends… usually about the time you pack your bags to go home. There are early packers, they start packing their bags several days before returning home… ready to go, they relax just a little less, they gear up and start writing lists. Sometimes these early packers end their vacation several days early and miss out on some of the sweetest conversations and times of doing nothing.
Then, there are those who do the opposite. They start packing for days before going on vacation and mentally check out from the real world. When we come back from winter break, there will literally be some seniors, about to graduate, who have already packed their bags. We call it “senioritis” but really, it is just a case of packing your bags way too soon.
A time for every season
There is a time to pack your bags and move on. A time to retire. A time to go on vacation. A time to come home. These times of transition can be a good thing and help us live balanced, healthy seasons of life.
There are those who study and work hard in high school and get into the college of their dreams and yet, they pack their bags too soon and forget that their colleges are still watching those scores and miss out on those dreams as offers are rescinded. Don’t pack your bags too soon.
There are teachers who have epic years of teaching but when testing is done, they figure the year is done. Yep, they pack their bags too soon and miss out on some of the best teaching of the year and just show mindless videos that they don't even watch with the students. If you need an upcoming test to validate whether you should teach or not, you’re sending the wrong message and forgetting why we’re in this profession: to teach. Don’t pack your bags too soon.
Remind those you care about to finish well
You teach with your life and your actions.
I have a homeroom of seniors. My job is to tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear because finishing well is important.
Many. Most of us, me included, have had times when we didn’t finish well and packed our bags too soon.
But not this year. Not this time. Not this career.
We cannot do anything about times we’ve packed our bags too soon but we can do something about now.
- We can encourage soon to be retirees to finish with zest and save the best for last.
- We can encourage soon to be graduates to finish with determination and have their highest GPA at the end.
- We can introduce epic teaching by creating our best lessons at the end.
Grit is being shown as THE critical habit for success (see my Edutopia article) and there’s no better way to teach it than finishing well. Sprint to the finish. Pack your bags when it is time to go, not before. Finish well, dear teachers and encourage students to do the same.
Remember your noble calling, teachers. It isn't easy, but it is worth it.
Tips for minimizing teacher stress
- Discover 10 stress-busting secrets for healthy teachers. What simple routines will help you handle the stress?
- Simple advice for coping with stress at work.
- Learn tips to help you deal with difficult colleagues and students (even those who "hate" you -- yes it is possible!)