Friday, August 23, 2013

Ready or not

One of the things that scares me the most about opening day is that some kid is gonna listen to me for 2 minutes and think I’m a total idiot1 that doesn’t know what they’re doing (and if I was ever right to fear this, please feel free to keep it to yourself :).

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Back in 2010, the great NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice shared something at his Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony that resonated with me:

My single regret about my career is I never took the time to enjoy it… I was always working.

I was afraid to fail. The fear of failure is the engine that has driven me my entire life. The reason they never caught me from behind is because I ran scared. People always are surprised how insecure I was. The doubts, the struggles, is who I am. I wonder if I would have been as successful without them.
Jerry Rice, Hall of Famer


I remember numerous sports commentators discussing this with bewilderment, wondering how someone so great at their craft could possibly be scared of “failing” at something that they were obviously so immensely talented at.

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I’ve seen it numerous times in my students, but I didn’t have to become a teacher to understand that sometimes those who work the hardest at what they do are also driven by an immense fear of falling short. But everyone is wired differently and that’s just the hand some folks are dealt.

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As I was getting things together this afternoon, I thought to myself that I’m not sure I’ve ever really been “ready” for the first day of school. I’m not sure anyone ever really is, rather I think its just one of those things that father time takes and shoves into our chests.

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  1. keep in mind that I have taught AP/Pre-AP every year since opening day #1, so this could very well be legitimate []


Today is actually the rare Friday that I DON’T look forward to.

. . .

Have you ever rolled your eyes upon hearing someone say that “teachers have SUCH hard jobs”?

Kinda like when you think to yourself, “SCREW teachers. I have a hard job — at least they get summers off!”

I feel you.

I’ve done the same.1

. . .

It is real, though. We have hard jobs.

The truth is, most people have hard jobs.2

As a buddy of mine intelligently quipped earlier this summer,

“Every job is stressful.”

I don’t pretend to believe that teachers belong on another plane when it comes to comparing worlds of pain — that’s a game with no real winner, in my opinion.3

I cannot tell you that every teacher cares about their craft the same way.

I cannot tell you that every one puts comparable amounts of time into their craft.4

I cannot even tell you that we necessarily work harder than our peers with “normal” jobs.

What I can tell you is that teaching is consuming.5

There are many in the profession6 that will tell you this is a job that they CANNOT do halfway.7

Heck of a lot of fun.

Rarely easy.

Often has little to do with teaching.

. . .

But if you have any teacher friends (and if you believe in this sort of thing), say a prayer for them. Not just for Monday, and not just for the rest of the week, either.

Occasionally, we need it.

Like when we find out that one of our students is diagnosed with cancer.

Or when a kid loses a relative in an overnight house fire across the street from them.

Or when mom and dad are going through a separation and you have to act like sequences and series matter.

Or when a parent rips you a new one over the telephone and the opening bell rings 30 seconds after they hang up on you.

. . .

We don’t always need it. Trust me, many days we don’t.

But when we do, don’t be afraid to buy us a drink.8

Like a wise friend once said to me, “Teaching is easy — if you don’t care about the kids.”

  1. sometimes, even while I was a teacher []
  2. case in point… I have a couple of friends that are nurses… and I would never trade places with them, ever. []
  3. Besides, I believe that different people’s problems are relative to the worlds that they live in. In other words, I think first world problems are real problems… sometimes. []
  4. Some can’t. And that’s perfectly okay. Some won’t. And… that is okay too. []
  5. Sometimes, prohibitively so. []
  6. myself included []
  7. in fact, sometimes I envy those who CAN []
  8. I’m talking chocolate milk, of course. :) []