Every day isn’t going to be perfect. In fact, many days won’t be and we’ll limp out of the building at 2:20 as if we’d just been through battle. Then there are the neutral days where things were good, learning happened, and behavior was fine. But we live for those days that are the diamonds in the rough. The days when not only does learning take place, but also it takes form. When students connect the classroom to the real world and not only complete assignments but yearn to know more. The days when a simple question leads to discussions about life and grit and who we are and want to be. Those are the days that make arriving to school before the sun comes up easier than we thought it would be.
When you come to love this art or at least appreciate it, you’ll do more than just attempt to open heads and shove knowledge inside. You’ll pause and reflect on your students and realize that only when you holistically address their needs will education do the transformative job you sat in countless workshops talking about. “Transformational change” is not a catchphrase. It’s not something obtained from slapping a few trackers on your wall or having all your lesson plans neatly assembled in a sharp binder. Its closer to the image of the child left behind a long time ago who gets the ‘aha’ moment that they get it AND they want it and they won’t stop until they are there. It’s leaving your invisible imprint that boosts a student toward success long after you are gone. I make these lists of A, B, C of things I need to do, with C being tasks I can delegate, B being tasks I can do later, and A being tasks that if I did them would have the greatest positive impact on my life. What’s the A for that child?
Even on days when we say we’re done, we’re finished, it’s too much, we’re still there. We still care deep down. You can’t help but care and start to connect. As much as we ‘break in’ our students they break us too. They break our notions, our thoughts, our independent lives. Therefore, to be imperfect but striving towards perfection in a severely flawed system means doing enough. It might not always seem that way, but we’re doing enough. And even when no one says it, someone’s actions and mindset whose life you touched does.