There’s no arguing, teaching is a DIFFICULT job. It’s not only difficult, sometimes it feels unattainable and draining. But teaching is also rewarding and fulfilling. The problem is the latter gets blurry or forgotten amongst all our frustrations and never ending lists of things to do, goals to achieve, battles to fight. This never ending list of battles and frustrations usually get in the way of our ability to notice the positive.
I realize that we teachers are often times kings and queens of complaining. We work so hard to get everything right, we have such high expectations from students, parents, administration, colleagues and ourselves. We advocate for our kids with so much passion that in the midst of all we forget that our days bring as much difficulties as they bring opportunities, and so we COMPLAIN and COMPLAIN (don’t get me wrong, we have the right to, and often times we are also right about our complains). But once in a blue moon, something happens that makes me take a step back from everything that is going wrong, and I try my best to be grateful for the little things. I’ve realized that when it comes to being able to find appreciation, it’s all about perspective, and it’s all about where you are coming from.
Tuesdays are days in which students leave early (2:45pm) and teachers stay for PD until 4:30pm. Often times, these PD days are not very welcomed by teachers because of all the little things we need to do. We have to grade student work, give feedback to students, answer or write emails, plan for the week or next day, create teaching materials (slides, games, small group instruction activities), and the list goes on and on. And so, when they tell us our “free time” is being taken up by more meetings, our minds can’t help but complain.
But yesterday, was a different Tuesday. I was determined to tackle the afternoon with an open mind. I won’t lie, at first I was skeptical. The session was intended to give us an outlet to express a challenge we were facing in class and hopefully get ideas on how we can work towards solving it. At first I did the usual. I silently complained in my mind. I knew what the problem was, I have literally tried everything in my hands to solve it. What else could I try. But as the session progressed, we got to the sharing part. We would meet with different teachers, share our struggle and then give feedback to each other as to what has worked for us. I was so pleasantly surprised. After sharing with the first teacher I felt a sense of empowerment and validation. First, I am not the only one with the same struggle and second, I have clearly more strategies to try. The session ended, and I left feeling different. I left school feeling GRATEFUL. GRATEFUL that I am working at a school that tries to support their teachers (even if we sometimes can’t see this). GRATEFUL that the school was open to listening to our struggles and trying to actively find ways to help us be proactive with our complains. There was a lot of complaining in that room, but there was also a lot of support. There was this space were even if we are allowed to complain, we were encouraged to seek solutions and answers to our questions.
And so yesterday, I chose NOT to complain. I chose to focus on the positive, I chose to feel GRATEFUL. GRATEFUL for the school’s good intentions in attempting to hear us and support us, teachers. I felt GRATEFUL to be working at a school that far from being perfect still tries to help teachers grow. They might not be able to solve all our problems, and it might sometimes feel like they are adding to our plate. But I am choosing to look at the bright side. I am choosing to be GRATEFUL.
(The best part was, I started my day today trying out one of the strategies a colleague shared, and it was a success. Baby steps though, who knows how long that success will last. I guess I just need to keep on trying.)