Learning The Art of Teacherly Love

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 09 2013

Happy Middle!

Happy New Year!  Welcome 2013!

As the rest of the world celebrates the start of a new year, with fresh starts, new goals, and bigger plans, we teachers are nearing a yearly milestone as well…
The Middle!

While I may have participated in ringing in 2013 with the rest of the working world, the quick return to our classroom on January 2nd made me realize that I am no longer following the world’s calendar.  It may be the first month of the new year, but we are quickly approaching the midpoint of our school year, and my mind, body, spirit, and patience, are definitely aligned to that timeline.


The Middle… Where we can either coast to the end, or push ourselves to ride through the finish… The Middle… Where you can almost see the finale, and you can definitely feel it approaching, but you also have a full view of the obstacles between you and that finish line..

With that being said, this midpoint milestone in our school year is also the perfect place to pause, turn around, and see exactly how far we have come, and the obstacles we have already conquered.  The Middle is the perfect time to reflect on where we have been, and how we can do better.

The Middle is a time of reflection; the main reason I began writing… and the most effective teaching strategy of the best educators around…

On our first day back to reality following winter break, at our end of the day staff meeting, we did some “forced” reflection, and I’ll admit, I was not a willing participant.  My body was still on break time, my head was throbbing from the full day back with the boys, and I had not yet wrapped my mind around all the things I needed to get done before the end of this report period, which marks the exact middle of our year.  We were asked to reflect on something a teacher told us that we will always remember… I had a few words of wisdom and advice, but this did not really feel like a true reflection of anything other than the fact that I could remember what someone told me once.  And then our Dean of Culture asked us to share something our students have taught us this year…
In the moment, I had nothing. Like I said, break-mode had not yet been switched to teacher-mode.
I was a little shaken up with my inability to come up with something I had learned from my boys this year, so I made a mental note to try again later.

Now that I have had some time to actually come to terms with break being over, and I have been allowed to thoughtfully reflect on the question, here it is.

What My Boys have Taught Me, so far:

  • Patience, patience, and more patience. 
  • They won’t leave me, because they feel most accepted, confident, and happy in our classroom, not because they are trying to torture me.
  • Being a boy is nothing like being a girl (farts, burps, wrestling, cars, and dirt bikes… who cares? Boys do.)
  • Movement, and the freedom to move and wiggle at all times, should be allowed in all classrooms, conference rooms, and meetings
  • Tough love is sometimes better than ‘talking it through’ (i.e. “Because I said so.” is an acceptable reason, sometimes.)
  • A smile, a high five, or a “Awesome job!” can change everything
  •  Frustration means you are trying, and you want it bad enough to try harder.
  • “Decent” is slang for “cool” (For example, “Yo! That video game is decent.”)
  • Even when they say “I hate you. You mean.”, or they are mad at me, or grumpy with the world, LOVE them anyways, with extra hugs even.
  • Every day is an opportunity to do better.

2013 may have just begun, but look at how far we have come in room 306, and how much they have already taught me.
So as the rest of the world gets started, we are gearing up to push through to that finish.  We have a road full of hills and obstacles already conquered at our backs.  We can look behind us and see how much we have already accomplished.  Looking ahead of us, we may be dragging a little, and the track looks more challenging, but I know my boys will continue to work hard and push past their frustration to reach the end.

With a new year comes new beginnings, and as you start your new goals with enthusiasm, let me just give you some forethought; when you get to “The Middle” there comes a decision; are you going to look ahead to all the things you have yet to do and worry and fear failure?  Or will you pause to take a look at just how far you’ve actually come, and all that you’ve already achieved?  I’m telling you now, look back!  Reflect!  And you will be recharged to press on.


Finally, as we start the second half of our journey in room 306, I think Jason Mraz says it best…

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No: I won’t give up

I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am.”


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    Dare to Teach with Love… Never cease to Learn.

    Greater Philadelphia
    Elementary School
    Special Education

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