I Make a Difference

money in the handsWell, I am seeing many Back-to-School sale signs up in the stores, so I know it is almost time to head back to school where I will sharpen pencils, decorate my room, and start writing lesson plans.  I love my summer vacation, but I love going back to school, too.  I love the feeling I get when, on the first morning back on my contract, the cheerleaders are there to whoop and holler when I walk onto campus.  I love reconnecting with my colleagues.  I love walking into my room looking at the sparkling-clean whiteboard, and putting all the desks back where they belong.  I love the first day when my kids return to my class and another year begins.

But as I stated before, I love summer.  And, it has been a phenomenal summer!  I have had the privilege of spending a significant amount of time with my high school sweetheart of 33 years ago.  One of the many things we did was go backpacking together in the High Uintah Mountains of Utah.  I was able to spend priceless moments with my family and friends, where we have cried, giggled and laughed out loud.  I celebrated my “officially” turning 50 the entire month of July.  I flew to Seattle where I introduced my high school sweetheart to my friends and family up there.  By the way, he passed the “Introductory Tour” with flying colors.  We hung sheet-rock and adjustable shelves in my garage and built a cabinet in there, too.  Then, for a couple of hours every day I have been going through EVERY box in the garage.  My word, I have collected a lot of very unimportant stuff over time, and some very cool stuff, too.  And at times, I have thought about the kids in my classroom.

I’m sure like me, if you are a teacher you often hear things like, “it must be rough being a teacher, you get three months off in the summer.”  And like me you probably think, “yes, and I have earned them!”  Did you know that most teachers put more hours into their jobs in the nine months they work than most other people put into their jobs over twelve months?  For example, one of the projects I worked on this past year I put in over 200 volunteer hours.  And that was just one project!  That doesn’t include all the time I spent writing IEPs, correcting papers, writing lesson plans, and a whole host of other things I do after my contract time.  And, I am NOT the exception to the rule.  I know many teachers who put in hours of overtime to make a difference in the lives of their students.

This last line reminds me of one of my favorite stories.  I’m sure you have heard it, but it is so on-target that I want to print it here again to remind us our jobs are important.  I don’t know where it comes from, so I don’t know who to give credit to.

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The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.  One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education.

He argued, ‘What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?’

He reminded the other dinner guests what ‘they’ say about teachers: ‘Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach.”

To emphasize his point he said to another guest; “You’re a teacher, Bonnie.  Be honest.  What to you make?

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, ‘You want to know what I make?’

(She paused for a second, and then began…)

‘Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.  I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.  I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 minutes without an I-Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.

You want to know what I make?’  She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.  ‘I make kids wonder.  I make kids question. I make them apologize and mean it.  I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.  I teach them to write and then I make them write.  Keyboarding isn’t everything.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math.  I make them use their God-given brain, not a man-made calculator.  I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.  I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.  I make my students stand, placing their hand over their hearts to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, because we live in the United States of America.

I make them understand that if they use the gifts they have been given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.’

Bonnie paused one last time and then she continued.

‘Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant…You want to know what I make?

I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  What do you make Mr. CEO?

His jaw dropped, he went silent.

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Enjoy the last few weeks of summer before you go back into the classroom to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  You have earned them!

Be kinder than necessary, be grateful and make it a peace-filled last few weeks,

Ms. Brown

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2 Responses to I Make a Difference

  1. Martha says:

    How refreshing to read your blog. I’m sitting in my classroom visualizing how the new year will begin. Of course being a NO BULL teacher with a big smile on my face. Our students need our strength to succeed and know they are important!

  2. Jerilyn says:

    Martha,
    It is going to be a great year with your attitude! We each create the environment in our classroom, and therefore, we each create what kind of a year we will have. Here’s to a terrific 2013-14!!

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