Congratulations! You made it through the longest day of the year and you have officially arrived in summer. Chances are you have also completed another school year. If not, you are probably sprinting toward the finish line. I still have a long distance run ahead of me – one more month of school.
As I write this, I am feeling philosophical. Whether you are done with your school year or the finish line is just in sight, it’s a good time to take a step back and reflect. After a particularly tough day of frustrating events and interactions, a colleague shared these words of wisdom about teaching with me that someone had shared with her: “The calling is real and the responsibility of teaching is sacred.” Now that is something worth pondering.
Teaching is a calling. It is not just a job. And that’s why it has the potential to drive you crazy. It is also a responsibility. There is a big responsibility of teaching. And that too gives it more potential to drive you crazy. It is truly endless. There is no end to the work you can put into it and it may never feel like what you do is enough. And yet, here you are. At the end of another school year. You are one of those who said, “yes” to the calling. You said, “yes” to the responsibility of teaching. You know what a big job it is and how important it is and so you show up every day as ready as you can be. You arrive ready to try to answer the calling and be worthy of the sacred responsibility.
But what about those days that are not “feel good” days? What about a year where you had a classroom full of students that challenged you in a way that didn’t leave you feeling triumphant? Or a year with that one student you felt you never really reached? It is at those times you need to remember that you did answer the call, that you did not shirk your awesome responsibility of teaching. You showed up.
At those times, you need to dig down deep and find that morsel, that hidden gem, that reminds you why you answered the call. Maybe it’s recalling just a moment you got to be in the front row to witness an “a-ha” moment or a tender moment between children. Maybe it’s recalling one of those magical days where the energy in the room felt electric but focused and everything you planned went as well as you could possibly dare to dream. Or maybe it’s recalling a year with that one hard-to-reach student you did reach.
At the end of a hard day, a hard year, or at the start of a hard-earned vacation, don’t forget to give yourself credit for the job that you do. Take time to revel in those successes no matter how small. Allow them to make an indelible mark on your memory and your heart so they are there when you need them most. And then, enjoy your vacation so you are ready to answer the call for another school year!
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.