Showing posts with label teachers can be happy too. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teachers can be happy too. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What Makes YOU Fabulous?

For the last few years (minus those periods of time when I dropped out of the blogosphere to, you know, have babies and all), I have not been shy about naming what makes a teacher fabulous.  Okay, if I'm really honest with you and myself, I have not exactly been shy about naming what makes myself fabulous in the classroom. 

We all have days where we feel like fabulous teachers.  We walk into our organized classrooms, greet our students with a smile and then proceed to teach several hours of kick a$$ lessons in which all students are engaged and make progress as learners.  There are no major behavioral issues.  There are no complaints about not having a pencil.  There are no interruptions over the intercom.  The photocopier stands free, without a line, and works flawlessly.  Not a paper jam for miles.  It is a good day.  You return to your classroom at the end of the day, smiling to yourself and wishing you had your own theme music because the day was Just. That. Good.

If you enjoy nerding out as much as I do, there are wonderful research based best practices out there for us to hang our hat on and I believe that teachers can, should and do keep up with those.   It is critical that we share our fabulous.  However, there are also all sorts of studies and papers and articles pontificating about what it means to be a good teacher, who is effective, who is not effective and why the so-called demise of the public education system is all our fault.  It is a lot of fire and brimstone and most of it is largely not helpful. 

Listen, we know how to be fabulous.  We need to harness our fabulous for those days that don't go as planned, are filled with interruptions or leave you wondering how you are going to reach several struggling friends.  Those days exist too.  And while I try my hardest to turn those days into funny stories, they often bring me down and make my fabulous feel further away like it's locked up in a box in a room full of mandates, meeting agendas and old piles of data. 

I think it's time we define what makes us fabulous for ourselves. My lovely friends over at the International Reading Association agree with me and want to help me share our collective fabulousness.  Clearly, there are many rockstar teachers out there; you can nominate a fabulous Super Colleague and help share his or her fabulous.  Leave a comment on the IRA's Facebook page or email them at with the subject line, "I know a fabulous teacher!"  Do it.  Think about how fabulous you can make another teacher feel and the importance of contributing to the conversation about what makes teachers...there isn't another word for it...fabulous!

Oh...and PS, check out MY NEW BOOK!   It is part hilarious, part research-based, and all practical.  (I promise to stop being such a Me Monster but it keeps staring at me from the corner of my desk and shouting, "What about me?!") 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Murphy's Law of Classroom Juju

(And for the record, I think Murphy is a douchebag.)  (Also, I hope you didn't fall out of your chair/burn yourself with coffee/shit yourself when you saw that I had a new post.  It's been awhile.)  (Did I mention that I had another mini???  Wondering how long that excuse is valid.)

Here is Murphy's Law of Classroom Juju.  Hold up, do I need to define Classroom Juju for you?  When I say "Classroom Juju," I am referring to that feeling in your classroom as well as that feeling you get about yourself as a teacher.  It's your vibe, how you're rolling, you you doin'? 

Okay.  Back to Murphy's Law of Classroom Juju.  According to Murphy's Law, a fabulous day in the classroom will be followed immediately by a day that makes you want to light your own hair on fire.  And not in the Rafe Esquith way, in the holy-hell-are-you-kidding-me way.  (Please notice that this law can also be reversed...unbelievably difficult days can be followed by fantastic days.  But because I am a bit of a cynic, I see it the other way.)

Picture it:  A crisp fall day.  Your morning meeting? Slammin'.  Your reading and writing instruction?  Epic.  Your students independence and stamina?  Unparalleled.  Your math lesson?  Unreal.  Student level of enthusiasm?  Stoked.  Your content area instruction?  Hot.  Read aloud?  Bananas good.  Classroom management?  The stuff of genius.  All in all, you are on your way back to your classroom after dismissal feeling as if you have this week in the bag.  You can practically hear your own theme music following you up the stairs.  Your after school routine (You DO have an after school routine, don't you?)  (You need the routine.)  is easy, breezy, beautiful.  You chat with a few colleagues, there are no pop up meetings or assessments.  You pack your bag that does NOT have a cockroach in it and head home.  You may even have time to hit the gym.  Say whaaaaa????

Cut to the next day.  OH THE NEXT DAY.  From the moment you pick your friends up from where ever you pick them up from, they act like it is the first day of school and they have no idea what your routine or rules might be.  You're all, "Guys, it's totally like the 40th day of school."  And they're all, "What's your name again?"  as they throw their homework folders just anywhere (The bin is labeled, people!), shout out that they left their books at home and then proceed to chit chat as opposed to getting down to the business of their morning work.  One student has a meltdown during reading, the gym teacher tells you "your class acted out of control" like there was something you could do through telekinesis while you weren't in the actual gym at the time of said loss of control, and your lunch sucked.  On the way back to your classroom after finally FINALLY dismissing your class, you get stopped in the hall by an administrator who wants to know when you're going to turn in the data, the data, must have the data! 

I'm telling you, to be a teacher you have either got to be the most Zen, balanced chick on the planet OR enjoy riding the emotional ebbs and flows.  What does it say about our confidence that even I (who is in possession of a fairly strong sense of self and capacity if I do say so myself) feel crushed and worthless at the end of a day like this?

Monday, December 31, 2012

Buh-Bye 2012!

So I'm just about T-minus seven hours away from the official start of 2013 and I feel compelled to write some sort of reflective genius about the year.  Hopefully you are reading this post with a drink in hand.  I definitely sound much more brilliant if you've been drinking.  True story.

You guys, 2012 was rough.  ROUGH!  While you know I have a flair for the drama, the highs and lows of 2012 put my natural tendencies to seek out drama to shame.  I didn't have to seek it out, it found me, slapped me in the face and then laughed about it while calling me fat.  For real.  Both professionally and personally, I am keeping my fingers crossed for a much more even keeled 2013.

If you've been reading for awhile, you know that I have basically been involved in a five year quest for professional Zen.  Much of my struggle to find said Zen stems from the daily ridiculousness that goes down each and every day in our public schools as well as my public-school-teacher-ingrained- manner of being perpetually unable to strike anything related to a personal/professional balance.  (Did you guys know that you are actually supposed to go to the gym?  Evidently it's not enough to carry that little thingy around on your key chain.  Who knew?) 

Some personal struggles this year forced me to have a new perspective on my life as a slave to education.  Without actually saying "Don't sweat the small stuff" (because that sort of phrase makes me want to pour salt on an open paper cut), I learned to stay cognizant of what really matters.  My family, my own philosophy of what it means to be a good teacher, and those projects that truly make me happy. Yes, I still engage in hours of paperwork and other miscellaneous bullshit that is a complete waste of my time, but I try not to focus on it as much.  Very Jedi mind trick, very Zen. 

With this attitude in hand, I gratefully will say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013.  May 2013 bring joy and professional happiness to us all.  (Spoiler alert: Mrs. Mimi is going to be getting her Happiness Project on and I hope you all will join me!)  For me, that definitely means more time over here on the blog.  This will only be my 20th post this year and although much of this year was too dark for me to even contemplate looking at a keyboard, I have missed you.

Without further ado, here are the top five viewed and commented on posts of the year.  In other words, the posts that totally kicked ass/struck a chord with all you lovelies out there.

Number 5: Heroes

Number 4: Just Another Manic Wednesday

Number 3:   Where Do I Begin?

Number 2: I Went Running.  What Did I See?

Number 1:  You Put Your Whole Self In, You Put Your Whole Self Out...

Happy New Year!  I raise a glass to each and every one of you. 

Mrs. Mimi

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Went Running. What Did You See?

(If you can name the book that inspired the title of the post, you are definitely an early elementary teacher.  And I love you a little bit more than I did two seconds ago.)

Friends, I went running this weekend.  Running.  Running as in sneakers on, headphones in, Mini napping and work bag idle in a corner running.  Running. 

I know I keep typing it, but it's like my fingers are in shock.  So are my feet.  And my legs.  And - holy crap - the endorphins!  I am awesome right now.  AWESOME.  Awesome with a capital amaze balls.

Why has it taken me so long to get back on the horse?  And, honestly, was I ever really on the horse to begin with?  Oh.  Wait.  I know.  I'm an educator and we feel intense guilt whenever we do something for ourselves with time we feel like we should be doing something for our classrooms, or our families, or our friends or all the other individuals who get neglected between the months of Setpember August and June.  I doubled down with that guilt a little over a year ago when I became a mommy and, holy shit you guys, the mommy / educator combo is a whole world of guilt I never knew existed!  It's like a layer of guilt wrapped up in a you-suck-at-balancing-everything wrap.  Mayo on the side of course.  (See what I mean?  These endorphins have made me insane!)

If you've been reading me for awhile, you know that I am on a constant search for Zen.  (Read more posts about my impossible dream here.)   And I feel like every teacher friend I have is too.  We all lament our inability to go to the gym, to get a pedicure, to sit down and enjoy a book for ourselves.  We all make grand promises to fit that stuff in.  Because we are teachers, we organize a massive Plan To Do More For Ourselves And Be More Efficient which includes goals that are impossible to meet.  Like "go running six days a week" or "only eat dessert twice a month" or "grade papers the same night that I collect them" or "answer every single email I receive within 24 hours."  Um, can you say "set yourself up for failure much?" 

But you know what I did today?  Inspired by my version of a self help book The Happiness Project, I stopped complaining about how I never get to do anything for myself and used that time to actually go and do something for myself.  (Effing revolutionary, I know.)  I didn't tell myself I was going to run seven miles, I started with one.  And then I came home so freaking proud of myself and hopped up on endorphins that I know I will do it again.  Sooner rather than later.

And I thought to myself, "Self, maybe we should start a TEACHER's Happiness Project...."  In the spirit of continuing to strive for that Zen, that's exactly what I'm going to do.  In the spirit of just starting and starting small, let's just keep it to the blog for now.  I'll post about what I did to find more balance and be happier and you can respond with what you did (or hope to do) in the comments.


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