Monthly Archives: December 2015

Christmas Wish Lists for Teachers, Students, Parents, and State Legislators

Before Santa arrives in a couple of days, I am sending him the following Christmas Wish Lists. I hope his sleigh is not too overloaded to at least squeeze in a few of these Holiday wishes. Regardless, all of us need to be thankful for the many blessings we already have, and rejoice with the opportunity a new year brings to dream of the possibility of better days ahead.

Christmas Wish Lists:

Teachers’ Christmas Wish List for State Legislators:

  1. SUPPORT AND RESPECT FOR TEACHERS: Teachers desperately need – Mississippi desperately needs – a year where state legislators support teachers and public school education instead of putting both at the top of their hit list;
  2. ADEQUATELY FUND PUBLIC EDUCATION: After the heated battle and close defeat of Initiative 42, teachers need a sign from state legislators that they care about teachers and public education. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves said after the defeat of Imitative 42 that teachers are not the Legislature’s enemy, and he called for a time of reassurance and healing. Did he mean what he said? Finding a way to increase public school funding would certainly serve as evidence that he was serious and not just spouting more political rhetoric;
  3. TRUST OF TEACHERS: Teachers need to be heard! Hopefully, 2016 will be the year state legislators treat teachers as trusted professionals and listen to their views on education as closely as they listen to the views of non-educators in the public;
  4. IMPARTIAL/FAIR DECISION MAKING: To be fair and impartial, state or Federal legislators who send their children to private schools should not be allowed to have a voice in the public school discussion. Their choice to send their children to private schools shows a lack of commitment to resolving public education issues in favor of deserting the ship completely. Their choice also represents a potential conflict of interest that is compounded by a conscious or unconscious bias toward public education;
  5. ACCOUNTABILITY EQUITY: If teachers are to be held accountable for the success of students in the classroom, state legislators should be held accountable for providing the resources and support teachers need to do their job, and parents should be held accountable for providing support and a learning environment in the home. It is time we embrace the fact that when schools fail, it is a collaborative effort by teachers, parents, students, legislators, universities, and even society. To correct the inadequacies in public school education, we must first recognize that we are dealing with a widespread human epidemic and not just an incompetent teacher problem.

 

Teachers’ Christmas Wish List for Parents:

  1. BE POSITIVE ABOUT SCHOOL: At home, parents should be positive about school. If they speak negatively about school and teachers at the dinner table, their child will carry that negativity to school;
  2. BE THERE FOR CHILDREN: The most positive and lasting imprint on children is a parent who is always there for them. Children do not need parents who make excuses for them. They need parents who are adults and not best friends. They need parents who hold them accountable for their actions. They need parents who understand that today’s excuses may be crippling their child’s future;
  3. MODEL LEARNING IN THE HOME: Parents need to turn off the television and let their children see them read a book! Parents need to take their children to something other than a ball game or the movie. They need to visit a museum, an art gallery, or hike a trail with their children. Parents need to make learning an active part of the home;
  4. TRAIN CHILDREN EARLY: Parents should train children from an early age to get up and go to school. They should train their children to be on time to school. If such simple training does not exist in a child’s early life, the consequences could impair their ability to maintain a job and make a living for themselves and their family later in life; and
  5. MUTUAL RESPECT: Nothing positive is ever accomplished through yelling and abusive language. In today’s world, both teachers and parents have a difficult job, and the only way to make it less difficult is for teachers and parents to work together. The primary function of a teacher and a parent is to build a better human being, and that can only be accomplished through mutual respect between teachers and parents and love for the child.

 

Students’ Christmas Wish List for Teachers:

[Note: These are actual student wishes I collected over my years in education.]

  1. GET RID OF TIME WASTERS: I once asked a group of high school students the following question, “What is one thing you would tell your teachers they could do to improve your classroom experience?” Their number one response was “Quit wasting my time!” They told me teachers should get rid of time wasters such as worksheets, classwork and homework that are rarely discussed, quiet time in class, free time in class, and boring movies that sometimes go on for two or three days. They said they hated assignments that were obviously given for no other purpose but to keep students busy and quiet;
  2. THE TEACHER’S UNDIVIDED PRESENCE: Students want teachers to act like they want to be a teacher! They do not respect teachers who through action or words make it known that they are a teacher only until they find something better to do. Kids know when teachers would rather be somewhere else;
  3. CONSISTENCY IN THE CLASSROOM: When it comes to discipline, students want teachers to be consistent and fair. Teachers should not write a student up today for something they let the student get away with yesterday. If it wasn’t bad enough for the student to be written up and sent to the office Monday, the same behavior shouldn’t be bad enough to write up and send the student to the office Tuesday;
  4. RESPECT FOR ALL STUDENTS: Students want teachers to respect them for who they are – not who the teacher wants them to be; and
  5. CHALLENGE ME: Students, especially high school students, want teachers to make their time in class worthwhile! Don’t just give them information; teach them to apply and use the information. Teach them how to learn!

 

Parents Christmas Wish List for Teachers and State Legislators:

  1. TEACHERS: Treat my child like you would treat your child in your classroom;
  2. TEACHERS: Communicate with me regularly. Please call me! While email is a convenient means of communicating, it is also the most impersonal form of communication. Keep me informed!
  3. TEACHERS: Treat me with the same respect you expect me to treat you! Don’t talk down to me because you think I am uneducated or a poor parent;
  4. LEGISLATORS: Quit pointing fingers of blame at teachers and parents! Quit talking, listen, and put money for education where your mouth is!
  5. LEGISLATORS: Model accountability! Be as accountable for your actions as you want teachers and parents to be.

 

Legislators’ Christmas Wish List for Teachers and Parents:

SORRY, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out what our state legislators really want! Lately, it seems the only thing they want or need is our vote. Once they have that, they pretty much write their own wish list and do as they please.

Oops! That was certainly not in the Christmas spirit, but maybe by this time next year things will be different and more positive between educators and state legislators. At least that is my Christmas wish.

 

I hope each of you (yes, even state legislators) has a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year wrapped in all of God’s blessings! Until 2016, this is JL signing off.

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD December 22, 2015

Petal School District Tells the Nation, “We are not last!”

Extra, Extra, read all about it! The Petal School District in Petal, Mississippi proves its students can compete nationally! The scores recently released from the spring 2015 PARCC assessments show Petal students scored above the state average as well as above the national average. In a state regarded as an academic bottom dweller, and academically hailed by its own Governor as a “dismal failure,” this news is simply amazing! So, how did this happen? Was it luck, or was the assessment flawed? Neither! The success of the Petal School District is the result of high expectations and hard work by students, teachers, parents, school administrators, and the community. Despite a less than education friendly state legislature, a statewide backwoods aversion to rigorous curriculum standards, and inadequate state public school funding, the Petal School District continued to be successful by putting the needs of children first.

The educators in Petal thumbed their noses at education floggers in the Mississippi Legislature, parents who cried homework was too hard, and a public more interested in their pocketbooks than funding education. They showed what can happen when kids have adults – teachers, school administrators, parents, and the community – who believe in them. The school district demonstrated that success in school is a lot like Christmas; it begins with faith and believing – faith in teachers and believing all kids can learn. Maybe, if state leaders demonstrated the same faith and support for educators and a stronger belief in the ability of Mississippi children to learn, all Mississippi children would have a chance at the same success. .

Many years ago, Petal took a leap of faith out of concern for the education of its children, and that faith and belief that a good education is at the core of success in life have propelled this small community to the forefront of public school education in Mississippi. Petal is an example of what can happen when everyone in the school district and the community commit themselves to common education beliefs. In Petal, high educational expectations are not confined within the walls of the schoolhouse; the same high expectations are held by the community, a major reason for the success of the school district. As a result, although the district feels the sting from the lack of support and insufficient funding at the state level, the district is not crippled or held hostage by the state’s indifference. When it comes to education, Petal’s unwavering commitment to children carries it through the hard times. It is sad the Mississippi Legislature does not have such a commitment.

The Petal School District and community should celebrate and be proud of their historic accomplishment. For the first time, Mississippi children had an opportunity to showcase with other children across the nation, and though the results show Mississippi has work to do, successes like Petal show Mississippi does not have to be last. For children and teachers to be able to compare themselves to other children and teachers across the nation is an invaluable tool. Unfortunately, the Governor and the state legislature did not see it as such and forced the Mississippi Department of Education to drop the PARCC assessment for a less rigorous, more Mississippi friendly assessment. Mississippi school children do not need a watered down Mississippi friendly assessment that will serve only to once again produce an unrealistic sense of accomplishment and success. In an age of escalating knowledge and constantly changing career opportunities, our children should be challenged to rise above the ingrained idea that “if it was good enough for my mama and daddy and their mama and daddy, it is good enough for me.” Our children are better than that; our children must be better than that to have the lives we dream and work for them to have. Thankfully, Mississippi school districts such as Petal recognize this and do everything humanly and fiscally within their means to challenge and prepare children to compete not only nationally but globally.

Although not perfect, the PARCC assessment provided a truer picture of where Mississippi students stand academically as compared with other students across the nation. It gave a more realistic picture of student strengths and weaknesses than any of the previous Mississippi friendly as well as educator friendly assessments the state has administered. It is deeply troubling that Mississippi leaders objected to such a potentially motivating and strategic educational tool; I can’t help but wonder what it is about Mississippi children that our state leaders do not believe in or want to hide. I am fairly certain though that whichever it is will be well hidden by the new state assessments; at least to those who choose to review it with a blind eye.

Regardless, school districts such as Petal will continue to thrive even with a watered down assessment; it will just make success a little more difficult. The Petal School District holds to a set of core learning principles that guide everything it does with the belief that all children can learn at the center of those principles. That belief is not a paper belief, but a real breathing conviction that children come first. It is a belief that the leadership in Jackson would do well to replicate. If the public and state leadership had the same unwavering commitment to put children first, Mississippi could move mountains. However, until such a glorious day arrives, it will take school districts like Petal to dare thumb their noses at the naysayers and dare say, “It’s for the kids!”

Congratulations Petal! You have once again made us proud! You have given hope for a brighter future for all Mississippi children during this Christmas season. Merry Christmas, and May God continue to bless the school district, the educators who work so hard for children, and the community that supports them so well.

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD   December 19, 2015

School Free: Eliminate Public Schools in the United States

I have been thinking about the recent Mississippi vote against fully funding public school education. I realize it does little good to rehash old wounds, but sometimes a second look is warranted. That is especially true in light of the emotions that flowed so freely on both sides of the issue in the days leading up to the vote. So, putting aside the confusion caused by the ballot and the chancery judge issues that dominated the discussion prior the people’s decision, I took a second long look at the main reasons people gave for voting against fully funding education. The primary issues I looked into were school consolidation, over paid school administrators, throwing money at education, and lack of performance and fiscal accountability. Rather than focus solely on Mississippi, I decided to take it one step further and examine how Mississippi attitudes toward education compared to public attitudes of education across the nation. I am glad I did; it changed everything!

First of all, when it comes to public attitudes, I found Mississippi pretty much flows in the same direction as the rest of the nation. We also seem to be perfectly in sync with the other education bottom dwellers – Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Washington, D.C. I found the negative attitudes displayed toward public education by so many Mississippi voters differed little from attitudes toward public education in other parts of the nation. Like most of the nation, Mississippi is facing an education crisis spurred by a thinly disguised Republican agenda to privatize public schools, a movement for greater parental choice in education decisions, and an unwavering belief that the public knows more about what is best educationally for their children than educators. In addition, the overall lack of political and public respect for public schools as well as the political and public resolve to influence, dictate, and control the selection and development of local and state school curriculums appears to be common across the states. What truly bothered me though was the discovery of a deep underlying – unspoken – opinion held by many in the political arena as well as the public that suggested the United States would be better off by eliminating ALL public schools!

After years of lackluster academic performance, it appears the public’s respect and trust of public education falls somewhere between their respect and trust of politicians, TV evangelists, and used car salesmen. In seems, many people in the public believe they can do better teaching their children at home than public school teachers can in the classroom, so they question the existence of public schools. Of course, as an educator, I regarded such reasoning as nonsense, but after immersing myself further into the issues, I came to the realization that maybe they are right. Maybe, it is time that as a nation, we face the possibility that public schools have outlived their purpose. If we are honest with ourselves, public schools today exist primarily for childcare, sports, free lunches, and of course, testing. Even academic courses, to create jobs and sustain student interest, have been subdivided and disemboweled to the point of irrelevance. When lack of subject substance and continuity is meshed with the present public school focus on social interactions, celebrations, playtime, political correctness, and curriculums we dare not make too challenging, we are left with little more than a hypothetical school. Again, let’s be honest, that game can be played at home with less expensive overhead than public classrooms. Current politics, local pandering, inclusiveness, and permissiveness have left many public schools little more than thirteen years of leveled kindergarten with a senior year that according to the public should exclusively be about having fun and building memories.

So, yes, maybe there is credibility to the idea of eliminating public schools altogether. With the Internet, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and texting, children have little need for the social aspect of school anymore, and the academic possibilities and resources available online far exceed what many underfunded and understaffed public schools can offer. Regardless of parental income level, the Internet is available with very few exceptions in homes via a connected computer, smart TV, Ipad, or data linked cell phone, so why do parents need to send their children to school? For a fraction of the cost of what parents spend on local school taxes, school supply lists, workbooks, monthly school fundraisers, school field trips, school uniforms, and private tutoring lessons, they can have everything a school can offer in the comfort of their homes or the public library, and still have time to drop the kids off at the mall for the afternoon.

This has not been easy for me to swallow, but as an educated person, I have no choice but to face this new reality. Schools are no longer relevant in America! The sooner this is accepted, the sooner we can put an end to the many school related issues handcuffing our society. Since everyone who has ever attended grade school or high school is recognized by most American political leaders as experts on what children need to know and be able to do (especially in Mississippi), the United States could easily abolish ALL public schools and save billions of dollars in education wages, salaries, and benefits. I dare say, making America “School Free” would most likely have a major positive economic and social impact on our nation. If there are any doubters, please look carefully at the following benefits . . . .

If we made America “School Free”. . . .

  1. Parents could teach their children the way they were taught;
  2. Parents could assign homework not too difficult, so they could help their children with the homework;
  3. If we made America “School Free,” the national budget could be balanced and the national debt paid off with the money saved on education;
  4. The cost of childcare for working parents could be drastically reduced. Parents could reduce childcare costs by dropping their older children off at the mall, movie theater, park, or zoo during the day. For younger children below the age of five, there would be an abundance of teenagers available and willing to babysit for a small fee since they would not be burdened by school;
  5. Eliminating public schools would drastically impact the economy for the better:
    • Revenue for businesses in malls would increase;
    • Local sales taxes would increase;
    • State money normally spent on education could be divided among other state agencies to hire extra personnel, improve services, rebuild crumbling infrastructures such as bridges, and there would even be money to build more prisons. Who knows a little extra money in the budget may even solicit a smile from the highway patrol personnel in the driver’s license office;
    • Without such expenses as school taxes, school fund raisers, and school supply lists, parents would have more money in their pockets;
    • If America was to become “school free,” unemployment numbers would spiral downwards since malls would need to hire extra security and sales floor people and more police and highway patrol personnel would be needed to patrol the streets.
  6. If We made America “School Free,” kids too cool for the mall or without transportation to the mall would have more social time on street corners;
  7. School buildings could be converted to climate control storage units, which would create additional local government revenues. Of course, the broken windows and air and heat would have to be repaired or replaced first, and better security systems would have to be installed in most public schools used for this purpose;
  8. Football and baseball stadiums as well as gyms could be turned over to local club sports. Clubs would be responsible for hiring and firing coaches at their discretion. There would be no more of the “namby-pamby” talk about character building; it would be “win or the highway” for coaches and players alike. Kids could practice eight hours a day, five days per week or even seven days a week if coaches and parents desired;
  9. There would be no testing, which means no more shaming comparisons to other schools in the state or countries around the world;
  10. Since they would no longer be needed, School buses could be parked bumper to bumper along the USA/Mexico border to provide an inexpensive wall to keep out illegal immigrants. School bus drivers could be hired full time to sit in each bus with a shotgun to repel all illegals trying to cross the border;
  11. Money saved on education could be used to create a wall of isolation around the United States. Only information and people deemed pertinent to the political agendas of the governing party or pertinent to the success of collegiate or professional athletic teams would be permitted to enter the country;
  12. The government could control all free thinking, or at least quarantine free thinking troublemakers to restricted zones in barren thinly populated areas of the country. The Democrat and Republican parties would be free to indoctrinate or brainwash the American people with any ideology that suited their agendas;
  13. Providing services such as sex education, suicide awareness, health screenings, counseling, providing for children with disabilities, and serving breakfast and lunch would once again become the moral, parenting, and monetary responsibilities of parents;
  14. State and Federal legislators could concentrate on issues such as poverty and not simply focus on the symptoms of poverty such as poor academic performance. Without public schools as a whipping boy, legislators might finally do the job they were elected to do;
  15. If we made America “School Free,” freeloading teachers would finally be forced to get real jobs like everybody else!

These are only a few of the benefits of getting rid of public schools in America. Based on the current attitudes toward public school education in Mississippi and across the United States, I am convinced the public is ready for such a move.  It is bound to happen sooner or later.  How much longer can public schools in this state and this nation exist without the confidence of the people? Public school educators have endured about all the disrespect and votes of “no confidence” they can tolerate. So, why not simply put them out of their misery and close public schools altogether? Except for Friday nights in the fall, I wonder if public schools would even be missed.

JL

©Jack Linton, December 14, 2015

A Teacher’s Guide to being AMAZING

I have never met a teacher who wanted to be mediocre or average. Without exception, teachers go into the education profession to be AMAZING and make a difference in young lives! Unfortunately, not all of them become amazing due to one or more of three factors: (1) they lack the capacity to be amazing (Luckily, there are very few of those around!); (2) they lack the commitment to be amazing (Fortunately, lack of commitment is not an issue for the vast majority of teachers!); or (3) they lack balance (Lack of balance is where most teachers fall short of AMAZING!). By lack of balance, I mean they do a great job taking care of school business, but they do a poor job of taking care of the “I business.” As a result, they never reach the amazing heights they are capable of achieving before they burn out or settle for a career of mediocre to good but not amazing.

To be an amazing teacher doesn’t take another expensive degree, more professional development, embedding new breakthrough teaching strategies into lessons, or the principal’s blessing. The secret to being AMAZING is for teachers to take care of themselves and maintain balance between their professional and personal lives! The short and simple is that amazing teachers not only take care of the children they teach, they take care of themselves as well. They are devoted and committed professionals, but they also have a life outside of teaching. To be amazing, teachers cannot neglect family, hobbies, other interests, or themselves. If they do, the weight of that neglect will bury them and swallow their professional and personal joy.

Like Sherlock Holmes who played the violin to recharge his batteries between cases or when he simply needed to relieve stress, teachers must also recharge their batteries regularly. The amazing teachers I have known were masters at recharging their batteries. They had interests or hobbies outside of teaching, or at the least, from time to time, they treated themselves to small pleasures to keep their professional and private lives in proper perspective. The greatest harm teachers can do to themselves, their families, and their students is to become consumed by teaching. Joy as a teacher cannot be sustained unless there is also joy outside teaching. When teaching replaces life, family, and all other interests, the very spirit that makes a teacher amazing is compromised.

When teaching becomes all-consuming, an imbalance is created that can lead to frustration, disillusionment, and resentment of work and sometimes even family. As a result, teachers begin to look for a way out; they become another casualty of the teacher exodus. The good news is that leaving the profession or settling for less than an amazing career does not have to happen. There are simple strategies teachers can use to reduce stress, redirect priorities, and bring back into focus what is most important in life. The only drawback is finding the time, the nerve, the courage, and sometimes even the desperation needed to recharge and reclaim the proper balance between professional and personal lives.

To stay amazing, and up to the daily challenges they face, teachers need to take care of themselves. They need to find or create ways to bring joy and control back into their lives, or if they are too “pooped” to be creative, they need to follow the suggestions listed in this article to help maintain or put balance back into their lives. To coin a phrase used way back in the sixties, teachers need to sometimes simply “let it all hang out!” After all, the ultimate goal is for teachers to be AMAZING, enjoy the AMAZING journey they have chosen as a career, and make an AMAZING difference in the lives of the students they teach, which, by the way, also includes their children at home.

A Teacher’s Guide to being AMAZING

Teachers should take one or more of these daily or at least weekly to recharge their batteries and ensure the proper balance in their lives:

  1. Marinate yourself daily in a guilty pleasure:
    • Take a break from everything for at least thirty minutes each day. Lock yourself in the bathroom, bedroom, tool-shed, barn, or wherever you can be alone for at least thirty minutes;
    • Relax with your favorite drink!
    • Read something that is not news or school worthy! Read for pleasure!
    • Take a walk by yourself and SING! LOUDLY! The birds won’t mind; your singing makes their voices sound sweeter;
  2. Get a dog! A dog doesn’t care if you had a good day or a bad day. He is always happy to see you, and he doesn’t care if you flubbed your evaluation, which you probably didn’t, or if you are at the top of the principal’s hit list, which you are probably not! In your dog’s eyes, you will always be the best regardless of what is going on in your world;
  3. Play music from when you were a teenager! Play it loud like you did at sixteen – feel good, bone rattling loud. Start dancing around the house until everyone joins in the fun, or thinking you have “lost it,” they rush out the door leaving you alone. Then enjoy the few minutes of solitude before the padded wagon comes to haul you away!
  4. Dance naked! But, send the kids next door or to grandma’s house first!
  5. Take a ‘simple break” and color in a coloring book;
  6. Write two thank you notes and mail (Do NOT email!) one to a friend and the other to yourself. The most neglected and important friend you have is yourself – don’t ignore YOU! A little self-love is needed for balance;
  7. Mail yourself a care package to your school! If you choose, share it with friends;
  8. When you get home from school, before you go into the house, draw a chalk hopscotch game in the driveway and play a game or two or three of hopscotch by yourself, with your kids, or even with your spouse. Relax! Exercise! Laugh! Have fun!
  9. Take a weekend unplanned road trip! Get in the car and drive! No plans, no nothing – just drive!
  10. Pack two bottles of wine, and go to an open field or park. Spread a blanket on the ground, lie back with a glass of wine, and look for shooting stars! They are much easier to find with the second bottle;
  11. Stay away from Facebook for a whole day! Let life be about you for a change and not everybody else!
  12. Lose your phone for a day! Your friends and family can call you with their problems, gossip, and requests for favors tomorrow. Take a break from always being there for everybody but you!
  13. Relieve the stress in your life and make yourself a priority by throwing away every piece of clothing you own except what you are wearing. If you are a woman, go binge shopping and enjoy buying everything new. Match and style to your heart’s content. If you are a man, go shopping by yourself (DO NOT let your wife go with you!), buy three cheap t-shirts and three pairs of cheap underwear that will develop comfortable breathable holes quickly, buy a couple of pairs of jeans, buy one pair of black dress slacks, buy one pair of khaki slacks, buy seven shirts all the same color, and one black tie. Mix and match to your heart’s content;
  14. Don’t take yourself so seriously! Teaching is a serious job, but not half as serious as the mental and physical health and well-being of you and your family. Before others get the chance, laugh at yourself. Give yourself permission to have fun both in and outside of the classroom.
    • Teach your class standing on top of your desk or in some way equally as strange and unusual;
    • Sing and dance the intro to your lesson;
  15. Smile! You DO NOT have to wait until Christmas to smile in your classroom! Amazing teachers smile and smile a lot – at school and at home!
  16. Take a beer bath! Spas in Austria and Germany claim a beer bath is the ultimate stress reliever, so relax in a bathtub full of warm beer. As a side benefit, bring a straw and leisurely sip the warm brew as you relax. A beer bath is the perfect solution to relaxing yourself inside and out;
  17. Go fishing without bait! Give the fish and yourself a break; don’t bait the hook, cast your line, and sit back and nap, read a book, or just enjoy nature;
  18. At least one day a week, put aside the lesson plans, grading papers, turn-off the television, turn off the phones, shut down the computers and spend quality time with your family. Play a board game! Go to a movie! Go out to eat! Visit a state park or museum! Re-connect with your family weekly!
  19. Find a hobby or join a group outside of education. Education is the greatest profession, but like all professions, it will use you until you are used up and then discard you. For most teachers, teaching is their life, but really amazing teachers also make it a point to have a life outside of teaching. AMAZING teachers find purpose outside of teaching as well as in teaching;
  20. Take a camping trip or rent a cabin at the lake. Go wading in a stream. Hike a trail. Build a campfire and make a Dutch oven peach cobbler. Sunday, morning, don’t go to church, but instead conduct your own private service next to a stream or by the lake. Listen to the birds sing praises; and
  21. Activate your dreams! Take time to brush off your personal dreams! If you have always dreamed of being a writer – WRITE! If you dream of playing a musical instrument – TAKE LESSONS! If you dream of traveling – PLAN A GETAWAY and GO! Teachers get so wrapped up in igniting and nurturing dreams in their students as well as helping their own children and even their spouse realize their dreams that they often forget about their personal dreams. AMAZING teachers have dreams also – turn yourself back on to those dreams!

Teachers are AMAZING even if sometimes, they and those around them fail to recognize it. As a society, we desperately need them to stay AMAZING! However, that is not likely to happen if teachers always relegate themselves to second place. Over time, second place grows weary and tiresome and can lead to depressive futility and loss of interest. Therefore, it is imperative for teachers to guard against such feelings that so often lead to “burn out.”

The point for all teachers to remember is that as a collective profession you are important, but you are just as important, if not more so, as an individual. Schools always preach the students come first and that is as it should be – AT SCHOOL! Outside of school, there is no rule that says life has to be about everybody else first and YOU second. If there is, YOU made the rule, so YOU can break the rule! As a teacher or as a husband/wife or mama/daddy, you will never maintain the energy to take care of everyone else unless you take care of yourself first. It is not complicated, but I can hear some teachers moaning and groaning already – this is all well and good, but finding time to do any of this is the problem. Between family, church, community activities, and work, I don’t have a minute to spare for myself. I understand, but to be blunt, if that is where you find yourself, you have no one to blame but yourself. People at home, at work, and in the community are needy and they will “need you up” if you let them. They will unintentionally suck every bit of the “amazing” out of you if you are not careful. It is up to you to periodically call “time out,” and give yourself permission to be slothful, impulsive, carefree, and even selfish for a few minutes each day or longer if necessary. To be the AMAZING teacher as well as the AMAZING mama/daddy or husband/wife you were meant to be and want to be, you must make yourself a priority at least equal to all other priorities in your life. Contrary to what teachers and the majority of people in their lives might think, there is absolutely nothing wrong with teachers sometimes putting themselves FIRST! After all, TEACHERS are AMAZING!

JL

©Jack Linton, December 5, 2015