I don't know how it happens, but it usually does. I can be having a day that makes me want to scream, a day that makes my blood boil and my blood pressure rise. And then at the most unexpected times, something happens, sometimes it's something that would only matter to me, but something happens to turn it all around.
It is these times that make all of the stress inducing, sleep stealing, patience testing issues that come with being a teacher just disappear. And so I now give you my top 10 list.
10. Back to school shopping. Nothing is better than new school supplies. There is just something about a few new notebooks. Such possibility! And new school clothes? I am 46 years old , and every year I look forward to deciding on what to wear on the first day of school. Is that sad?
9. Writing utensils. Number 2 pencils. Ink pens. And possibly my favorite - Sharpie markers. I just can't get enough! I love a good ink pen, but they are hard to find. My writing utensil of choice is the number two pencil. And I don't mean the clicky kind - I hate those. I mean regular pencils. That have to be sharpened. That have an eraser. And if I'm really lucky, that are cute. I think Halloween pencils are the cutest. But I just love a Sharpie. I have never really worked much in other businesses, but I just don't see other professionals working with cute Halloween pencils and colorful Sharpies. Just saying - I may be wrong.
8. This may seem obvious, but it must be said. The schedule. Christmas vacation, spring break, summer vacation. It is a great schedule for moms. There is nothing better than being off when your kids are out of school.
7. The good workshops - emphasis on good. Nothing recharges the teacher batteries like a good workshop. Makes you want to run to the classroom and immediately begin teaching.
6. The books. I love books. Text books, novels, workbooks. Not gradebooks - I don't like those.
5. Talking about the books. I love to hear students discuss the books that they are reading. It's great when they get excited about an assigned novel, story, or poem. But my favorite is when they are reading something of their choice and have discussions with me or other students about the book. And it is just the bomb-diggity when they read a book and come in telling me that it is so much better than the movie.
4. Students keep you young. It's the energy of youth. It rubs off on you.
3. Learning from the students. Students are constantly teaching me something. Just today I learned about the neatest website from one of my seventh grade girls. My students are working on independent reading projects and must complete a presentation using technology. She wanted to make sure that she was doing what I had asked her to and that this site would open at school, so she directed me to dipity.com for creating digital timelines.
2. Laughter. Very few days go by that I don't laugh with my students. And I mean laugh. Not smile, not giggle - laugh out loud. Sometimes to the point of crying.
And the best reason...
1. Seeing the lightbulb turn on. Unless you have stood in front of a class, you might think I'm kidding. But sometimes you can just SEE that lightbulb click on. The entire expression changes. It's the best! I teach every day, but it doesn't matter what I do if my students aren't learning! I've got to see the lightbulbs to know that they are learning. I look for that lightbulb. Sometimes I would like to pretend that I see it so that I can move on, but that wouldn't get me or the students anywhere. Without these lightbulbs turning on, none of the other matters. Sometimes it frustrates me that the dang light just won't turn on. It can definitely add stress and raise the blood pressure when I can't present something in a way that students can learn it.
But rarely a day passes without some tiny thing that makes me just soak in the moment. Whether it's listening to a conversation about a book; a silly joke; a rough, but often practiced magic trick; or just finding a cute pencil on the floor, something happens to make all the stress and tension worth it.