I was talking to my mom and my sister today about teaching. Now, all three of us have been teachers at the high school level. However, I’m the one who’s still in the classroom. And as I was talking to my mom, she’s struggling with memory problems but she was a teacher and way back in the late 1980’s she was brought in to teach a bunch of what they called “Bad Boys.” The school administration really thought these kids were not going to graduate without a great teacher. That great teacher was my Mom.
This is a simul-blog post and podcast episode. This blog post serves as the transcript. It has been edited slightly from the audio version.
What We Remember
So they bought mom in their junior year to teach them a variety of subjects. Several of the teachers had threatened to quit, they said that these were just kids that just didn’t want to learn.
And believe it or not, Mom actually cooked something every day for them. So they would have cake or they would have cinnamon rolls or whatever. And she would say,
“Okay, when we get done with this, this and this, then we’re going to get to eat.”
For these boys, food was about the only thing that worked. Mama doesn’t really remember a lot. But sometimes she’ll look to me with tears in her eyes and say,
“Vicki, do you remember my bad boys? I sure did love teaching those bad boys. They said nobody could teach them but I did. I miss my bad boys.”
Sometimes the harder it is — the happier the memories are of overcoming and the harder we laugh when we think about,
“Oh my goodness I taught that one.”
And we can’t do anything but laugh now. I think I’m going to talk about learning how to collaborate with teachers around the world when I used 128 Kilobit per second modem and took four hours for us to upload a 20-second movie.
I think I’m going to talk about, one day:
- how we made apps with different classrooms,
- how I taught my kids how to make video games, even the kids who thought they couldn’t do it – especially the kids who thought they couldn’t do it.
I’m going to talk about:
- reaching and loving the kid who didn’t like me at first or
- helping the kids see greatness in themselves who didn’t even like themselves.
And I want to talk about the little girl who loved art and found out she could be a graphic designer.
And I’m going to talk about the kids I loved and the kids who loved me.
Refill the pitcher
But right now it is summer and we cannot pour out of an empty pitcher. It is time for you and I to fill up our pitcher so that we’ll have something to pour out in the fall.
But here’s another thought. I’ve been working on a post today for Edutopia and right now I’ve got 82 different apps in there.
But I was thinking about this — the very best app in the classroom (when it’s fully charged and at its best) is you, and it’s me.
I’m talking about an engine for change, an engine for learning. You can have kids who are really excited about learning but not every teacher offers it. Sadly, not every teacher has become an engine for learning.
But when you’re excited and you’re engaged – you are a better teacher.
That’s why it’s so hard to really trust a lot of the research around education technology because so many times in education technology the teachers are excited when they’re trying something new. And they get excited about it. And when they get excited about it, then everybody else gets excited.
So it’s really hard to control for the excitement of the teacher because how many teachers are truly excited about keeping things the same? I just don’t know.
Looking at Summer
As you plan, as you think about this summer just really ask yourself,
“Am I topping off my pitcher? Am I replenishing myself so that I can be that exciting teacher in the fall?”
Doc the Dog Marks the Passage of Time
And then here’s another thing, it’s always hard because I want to always be up for all of you who listened to my podcast. It’s important to me to bring excitement because we have so many hard things to handle…
but today… so I’ve been teaching for 15 years. The summer after my first year of teaching my dad and mom had their puppy or their dog, Doc, passed away and they got a new dog named Doug, a Jack Russell Terrier. And we’ve had him for 14 years. Well, today we
So I’ve been teaching for 15 years. The summer after my first year of teaching my dad and mom had their dog, Trey, passed away. They got a new dog named Doc, a Jack Russell Terrier. And we’ve had him for 14 years. Well, today we
Well, today (Tuesday) Doc died.
We said goodbye to goodbye to Doc. I’m a little sad about that because our little furry animals are part of our family.
One time I was at a conference and the person asked, how many of you teachers have pets? And they had us hold up how many fingers. And you know, I have four dogs and two cats, and so many of us are nurturers – a lot of us have pets so we know what it’s like.
Time and Seasons
But it’ll tell you one thing that animals teach me; that life is short, that there’s a season for everything. Even as we said goodbye to Doc today – sweet little Doc – we have a new dog that literally just wandered up just a couple of weeks ago and we’re calling him “Three Spot” because has three spots, nothing original there. But he’s a sweet little dog and we’ve made room for him.
And every year is different.
Every year has seasons.
Every year has its ups and downs.
Every year has kids that we’re really going to miss and every year has kids that we’re not going to miss. 😉
But as I think about my mom and I think about her talking about the dream she has of teaching those boys and how she misses those days. Sometimes she just says,
“Can I go back and teach those boys? I want to teach again.”
Wake Up and Realize We’re Living the Dream
And that’s her dream.
And you know, I’m living the dream now. And as hard as teaching is – and it’s hard – and as hard as it hurts sometimes, and it does hurt, it’s wonderful.
Teachers, you are the most remarkable app in your classroom. When you get excited when you get encouraged.
So I would just encourage you; take care of yourself, reflect on your wonderful classroom and the things you’ve done and the exciting things that have happened because there’s so many of you who live this every day.
Hard but Worth It
I got a beautiful letter today from a teacher who struggles and she said,
“You know, sometimes I bring food to school because I know that the kids would be hungry and I know that they’re having a hard time and I just love them.”
And we’re all this way, this is who we are.
We sacrifice — really all we have to — to be in the classroom.
The quote I loved from Wonder Woman
And I’m not going to give you any spoilers for Wonder Woman but I did see Wonder Woman. We took mom to see Wonder Woman while dad and my son were burying the dog so that we could kind of get mom away from it.
But there’s a line in there where she’s saving the world and she says,
“I don’t do this because they deserve it, I do it because I believe in love.”
And a lot of times these kids you teach, they don’t’ deserve it.
They’re acting like little turkeys,
or just not acting right
or they’re fussy
or they’re not appreciative
or they don’t know that you spent five hours planning that lesson and then it just crashed and bombed.
They don’t know that you planned something fun and then the teacher down the hall who always does worksheets and never does anything fun criticized you in the teacher’s lounge and kind of took the wind out of your sails.
They don’t know any of that.
And I know my friend, Todd Nesloney says kids deserve it and they do, kids deserve great things.
But sometimes, we don’t give kids what they do deserve — not so nice things — because sometimes they misbehave and sometimes they’re ungrateful and sometimes it hurts.
But I’ll tell you this, teachers, your job is so important.
Blessings of Broken Glass
And as I’m writing this, I am listening to my own son in the kitchen and something very large has just broken and I’m going to go in there.
But you know what? I think tonight I don’t think I’m going to fuss about it because I’m just reminded how short life is and even the broken glass is a blessing because of who’s in my life that broke the glass.
That means my son is home and he’s in the kitchen and he’s there and he can break the glass.
And people are a gift, people are just a gift.
And you’re a great gift to your classroom.
I hope you don’t find this too down, I hope you find this encouraging, I hope that you take some time to reflect and I hope you also listen to me.
Not Rested Yet
I’ve been out for two and a half weeks, I should be much more rested than this. Of course, I did start trying to run two miles again. I ran two miles Saturday and two miles yesterday and two miles today. And I’m completely sore and crazy and insane.
But I’m making forward progress.
But today, I was kind of down. And I decided, you know what, I’m going to get up today and try to help as many people as I can because when I help people I never have time to feel sorry for myself and my own problems and my own struggles and worries.
So I just want to encourage you. You do have a remarkable classroom and you are remarkable.
Heal up this summer,
get geared up,
listen to some old episodes of this podcast,
find some new podcasts,
learn some new things.
I hope some of you are going to ISTE. I hope to see you there.
Let’s just have a remarkable summer. And take some time to ponder on your remarkable classroom because I know and promise you some remarkable things happened this past year.
And if not, then let’s really try to make this fall and this upcoming year the most remarkable year we’ve ever had.
And it starts with you and me. We’re the apps.
And that is the remarkable thing.
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