“When I’m worried and cannot sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep.” Irving Berlin- White Christmas
In a week when we focus on gratitude, are you feeling grateful for what you do?
I work in education. It is hard, important work. This week I’ve been reflecting on why I do what I do. I’ve been remembering the teachers who did for me what I hope I have done and now help others do for students. Influence is such a powerful thing, and education is a profession with enormous influence.
So many teachers had an influence on me and taught me lessons that helped shape who I am.
In elementary school, Mrs. Landon gave me independence and individual opportunities to learn. She “differentiated instruction” for me and for Amy and for Charlie and for Randy before anyone knew the term. The four of us read and wrote and acted and researched many times on our own. She allowed us the freedom to work ahead and to learn at our own pace. She empowered us with projects and leadership roles. She taught us something important…
You are special.
In junior high (middle school wasn’t a thing yet), Mr. Reynolds did the same for all of his students. He was an amazing teacher. He acted out Civil War battles and made learning fun. And he was about the “whole child” before anyone knew the term. He could relate to every student. He allowed us all to tell our stories, and he supported us all in whatever we needed. Over Spring Break, he took us to Washington D.C. We watched as he stayed on the bus when we got to the Vietnam Memorial. His experiences in the war were still too fresh. He helped us understand that everyone has a story, and he taught us something important…
Everyone is special.
In high school, Mr. DiMauro challenged us. He set the bar so high academically that many times I thought I’d never reach it. But he found ways in class to “scaffold the learning” before anyone knew the expression. He taught us Beowulf in Old English and somehow we were able to understand it. Day after day he set impossible learning goals, and day after day he helped us meet them. He taught us something important…
You can do hard things.
In college Mr. Blanke gave me a job as the Box Office Manager, but he did so much more than that. He empowered me to run things and make decisions. He gave me paperwork and office work, but he also gave me real work. He let me design processes and change the way things were done. He confided in me. He processed with me. He relied on me. And he taught me something important…
You are needed.
Life is not always easy. I have had real challenges and obstacles in my job, in my health, and in my life. And every time I was able to meet the challenge and overcome. I am grateful for the people who helped teach me the lessons that made me who I am today.
Working in education (or in business or in marketing or in food service or in anything) is not always easy. There can be hard days and weeks when you question why you do what you do.
When you have those days or weeks, remember, you chose this job. You chose it for a reason…a positive, important, life-changing reason. Reflect on the people who had influence on you, and reflect on the students, staff, and parents you can influence. Be grateful for the opportunity.
You are special. You are needed.
Now go do what’s hard!