Refocusing on Gratitude When It Matters Most

My life is full of stress.  This isn’t earth-shattering news.  It’s not even cute or clever to talk about the mountain of work versus the divot of a pay scale that is the life of a teacher.  We all get it.  Nobody wants to hear about it.  But, the truth is that regardless of the amount of money that is paid, the number of “days off” we get, and the other misconceptions that are out there, the stress is quite real, so real that it makes it easy to forget the reasons why we endure the attitudes of apathy, the paperwork, the red tape, the scrutiny, the late nights of preparation, etc.  But there is a spark still alight there.  There still are reasons why we brush our shoulders off.  There are still reasons why the alarm clock still gets set for the next work day.  There are still reasons why we stand up in front of your children and put our 100% into sharing the love of learning that whisked us into the enchantment of the world of education.

Honesty time: I haven’t felt that way so much lately, but I am not looking to sink further into pressures, allowing the tension to built until a drastic decision is made.

Not to sound like a cliche, but I’ve realized that now is the time to pull up my Big Girl pants, realize that the night is darkest just before the dawn, and for my salvation to rely on my attitude of gratitude.  Regardless of how easily these stock phrases may be disregarded, they are my rescue rangers when I am feeling blue.  In these situations, I fall back to making a list of all the things that I love and treasure about my job, and that’s where this blog post takes me.

Five Reasons Why I am Grateful to Be Where I am

  1. My students are amazing.  They really are.  All teachers say this, but many don’t always mean it.  It’s the truth.   Of course we’re talking about teenagers here and the Hormone factor really takes me on a whirlwind at times, but they’re human just like me, and I have my days and moments I’d like to throw down the garbage disposal. Through my eight years of teaching I have been privileged to work with truly amazing young people.  They’re intelligent, inquisitive, sensitive, mindful, globally-aware, and resilient. Cliche warning: They’ve taught me more than I’ve taught them.
  2. My husband is a teacher.  He understands my ups and downs, and not just because of the words I share, but the shared experience of being in the trenches.  He walks the same path of hopeful educator, feels the same disappointment in wasted talents, and literally leaps for joy when our students supersede us, score that point, move onto the next round, and ask the questions that make you think, not make you complacent.
  3. My colleagues have always been my heroes.  From each school building, I have met educators who make me want to be a better me.  I treasure them all.  If I limit myself to those who are under the same roof and contract as myself, I am blessed times 1,000.  They are insightful, inspiring, resilient, and hopeful.  They don’t let the bark that’s worse than the bite get them down.
  4. I teach English.  I read and share the zest of reading with the next generation.  I can’t win them all over with one title, but it’s my heart’s delight to sift through thousands of titles to create the perfect recipe for engagement and wonder.  “Read this book, I think you’ll like it.”  I should have this screened onto a T-shirt and wear it on a daily basis.  I get to share amazing authors such as John Green, Agatha Christie, Kurt Vonnegut, Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, and wait to see the smiles (and sometimes tears) emerge on the faces of my students.  Picture the small segment of the Class of 2015 go from “WTF” to “Beowulf for President” in less than a day’s reading.  750A.D. and still kicking, baby!
  5. We are making a difference.  Pardon me while I get a little heated on this particular subject matter, but who the *@#$! is out there saying that today’s generation of teenagers is a disgrace and that the teachers who stand in front of them are wasting their time like throwing grains of sand into oncoming waves???  Who do you think you are?  Teachers are making a difference, and to stand on this very sturdy and legitimately high and mighty soapbox, let me say this: If you* continue to judge me based on the results of one test, then I say let us put YOUR jobs and reputations on the line for the million wasted hours and dollars that you squander in order to pad your back pockets and insurance programs!  Everyday learning happens.  Students see the world’s problems in new perspectives.  They’re solving problems and they’re finding solutions.  They stay up hours completing their assignments, not because they expect to use advanced Calculus in their careers, not because they are going to have to memorize a Robert Frost poem, not because knowing how to identify the passive voice will bring home a larger pay check.  No, they do these things so that they can sharpen the God-given abilities that they have in order to be better problems solvers when the older generations pass them the torch and say, “Here, you give this a shot.”

 

 

4 thoughts on “Refocusing on Gratitude When It Matters Most

  1. I feel your frustration, Amanda. I saw it in that outraged Donald Duck (that I loved!) yesterday! I can’t help – I can only empathize. Keep plugging away – YOU know why you do what you do, and no one else can fill your shoes. It’s the end of January, and it is at this time of year when we are reminded of just why we get summers “off.” Hang in there, friend!

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