There was a conversation going around twitter last week or the week before in which Dan Meyer posed different teacher-y roles and told people “pick 2.” Unless of course classroom teaching was your choice, then you only got to choose one. Related, maybe even in the same string of tweets, people were talking about the difficulties of having classroom teachers author books while teaching. Anyway, after following (but not contributing to) the conversation, I thought I knew my J word. I thought my J word was going to be “just.” As in, I’m curious if it’s “ok” to want to be “just” a classroom teacher. I use quotes because I know that people hesitate about using the word “just” in terms of teaching because there’s not “just” about being a teacher. But bear with me. I helped out in the Mathalicious booth last year at NCTM and found myself saying it, and then being corrected for it, repeatedly. It wasn’t that I was trying to minimalize our ridiculously important job, I didn’t know how else to say I was “just” a teacher who used their website and was helping out, i.e., not an employee. But I digress. I often think it would be fun and interesting to be an instructional coach, but as my “district” doesn’t have those, it’s currently not really in the cards. I’m happy “just” being a teacher. I don’t have anything to say in terms of presenting at conferences. I had to do something for like 6 schools this year and I was terrified and shaking the whole time. I barely write a blog and at that, certainly nothing reflective – I’m certainly not someone who should be writing a book. I have no desire to be in administration. So ya… I wonder if it’s “ok” to want to be “just” a teacher…
BUT…. that’s not my J word after all.
With new year’s resolutions abounding and people picking their “one word” and what not, well, I’m just not into all that. I’ve had the same resolution for the past 15 years and it’s gotten me nowhere, so why bother?
But… I am a fan of thinking about people who have been important to me throughout the year and trying to share my gratitude. If I was a better person I would have spent time writing them all handwritten notes yesterday to send, but alas. While I was thinking about these people and trying to fit them to the letter J, I settled on “joy,” for the way that these people have brought me so much joy this past year.
Each of my last 2 jobs were places in which I did not often feel very valued by the administration. It’s not important to get into the reasons why I felt that way, but there you have it. Because of that, my confidence in myself got repeatedly chipped away and made me a pretty miserable person. Fortunately, along came the #MTBoS to save me. Since they have come into my life, they have brought JOY back to my teaching life (a new job helped immensely, too). Conferences have become what I look forward to and the most JOYFUL parts of the year. Every twitter interaction leaves me feeling grateful.
I’ve had some specific interactions that really have confirmed that joy and that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Much of this comes from the way that probably without even knowing it, people have helped me to feel valued. As these interactions have happened, my grinchy little heart has grown in joy.
The most joyful part of the year was at TMC when I had people sign a picture book and it became basically a life changing thing for me. I’ve written all about that already though.
More recently, I have been asked by a number of people for feedback in various ways, and honestly it’s meant the world to me. I don’t really know how to explain it, but every time someone has asked me to look at something or to come to a session of theirs, it has filled my heart. I’m not great at giving feedback (i’m totally opinionated, so you’d think I would be!), but that people value my opinion enough to ask and put that trust in me has brought so much joy. As I carry this into the new year, I’m so appreciative of these people and the ways they have helped me to reclaim some of my confidence and to help me to realize that I do have so much value to share outside the walls of my classroom.
I hate making lists of people because inevitably someone gets left off, so I’m not going to single them out. But I hope if any of them are reading this that they will know who they are and that they have filled my heart.
I hope as we make our way into the new year we will always remember that they simplest gestures and kind words may bring more joy to someone else than we can possibly imagine and that we will always be on the lookout for opportunities to make someone’s day more joyful.