No school teacher has EVER had a former student return to say a standardized test changed his or her life. ~Joe Martin a.k.a. The Educator Motivator

Laying in bed tonight, a million thoughts going through my mind after a few recent posts on facebook.  The first, a post written by a fellow blogger...why teaching is so doggone hard.  A glimpse of a day in the mind of a teacher.

It took me back, to my first year of teaching...from the excitement and nerves to our class name and a time where collaboration of class songs and raps brought us together as a school family, where there was respect for each other and trust among one another, where working together brought success for the entire team, where building on each others strengths taught each of us something new and where class meetings helped us understand and accept each others differences. It wasn't always about passing this test or that.  It was learning about the world and how to be your own person in it.  It was challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone, to set a goal, to reach for it, and to give it your all...all the time.  My classroom was ALWAYS about working as a team, and me...the teacher...I was a member of that team.

It's crazy to me how much it has changed in just six short years.  Daily, I'm reading posts from some of the greatest teachers I know...teachers who are giving 110% and sometimes more, yet leave their classroom feeling defeated each day.  These teachers are having emotional breakdowns, doubting their ability, questioning whether they chose the right path.  And the workload continues to rise!  Expectations keep getting higher. There is more and more emphasis put on posting and teaching standards and objectives while less focus is being put on teaching life and social skills, something many children are desperately in need of.

Many people have asked me what it's been like not to return to the classroom this year.  I'll be honest, I miss those first years; the warm fuzzies, the peaceful spray, the cozy corner, the calming music, my team, but most importantly...the joy I felt when I walked into my classroom each and every day knowing that, together, we were going to learn something new.

That's what it's about...why we all got into the profession in the first place.  Ask any teacher, when we get to teach...and I mean REALLY TEACH, no stress, no's so rewarding!  Kids are actively engaged and interested in the moment.  There are "a-ha" moments and smiles, kids stepping out of their comfort zone, questions being asked, and conversation being had.

It's hard to explain, but it's so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is telling you; what you need to work on, how to be more effective, ideas to increase your score on the rubric from a 3 to a 4.  Seriously, I could go on and on.  We, as teachers, strive daily to be the best.  So we naturally seek perfection in all of these areas.  And because administration, the media, political "experts" have become so focused on test scores, we rely on each other for praise, acknowledgement, encouragement, and often ideas for becoming "better" teachers.

Another facebook post was the video of Ashton Kutcher's speech to America's youth at the Teen Choice Awards. He speaks of opportunities in the form of work, encourages them to use their head and be smart, and shares a message he learned from Steve Jobs about building a life you are proud of.  If you haven't seen it, please watch it here.

Our future generations need to hear more messages like this.  They need to hear speakers like Marcus Luttrell and know of the sacrifices that others have made so that we may have the freedoms we do today. They need to be guided toward their passion and encouraged to learn more about it. They need to be shown what it looks like to set a goal, to work hard, and to build a life to be proud of.

I'm no expert, but I'm fairly certain this is the least effective way to teach children what that looks like: watching utterly exhausted teachers, drowning in paperwork, dealing with anxiety over plans and observations, feeling guilty about the giant to-do list...still giant after coming in early and working late, trying to find balance between work and home, and constantly worrying about EVERYTHING!

Hoping to positively contribute in some way to this mess...

For now, please make sure you thank your teachers <3  

Enjoying Life! :-)

Just keep smiling...Just keep smiling...Just keep smiling, smiling, smiling :-)