Put it in the bank account for later

I haven’t had the mental facilities to complete many sentences since students returned two weeks ago. I am beginning to find time and words again. If you work in a school……

For those of you who have ever had a burning curiosity to know what it actually feels like to experience the first weeks of school, it feels a little bit like this for me. ( I encourage all you school friends, chime in if you have any good metaphors or similes!)

The first two weeks of school are like –

  • wearing an egg beater for a hat. By the time you get home your brain is scrambled.
  • living only in your short term memory. There is so little time to reflect that before 30 seconds is up I typically have heard 3 more conversations and at least that many questions. Moving information from short to long term memory gets hard!
  • taking a trip to a very noisy desert – I am turning into a prune because I can’t get enough water.

I am a whirling dervish waiting for the copier to spit out the papers I swear I pushed the button before coming all the way down here to wait but perhaps I should go back to my room and push print again I might as well stay but they aren’t here yet so I will turn and go all the way back but wait, was that the copier I heard coming to life?

Teaching forges a spiritual bond between people – there comes a point that you will see a fellow colleague across the hall or across the table and you will share the exhausted, empty stare that confirms their brain can’t process any more information either and both of you will instantly know that neither of you is actually conscious on this plane of existence but somehow you occupy the same alternate dimension.

These metaphors have been fun and I am excited to hear others! I love to write and it is such a pleasure to find my words again.

I love to share my love of writing with others, too. I have to be careful sharing my enthusiastic bias with kids because I forget that writing is NOT something some of them enjoy. In fact, some of them “DON’T LIKE” to write at all. I was vehemently reminded as such today while trying to get a paragraph out of my students.

  • The first two weeks of school are like being a dentist. You know that sentence is ready to come out but you have to wrap a string around it and pull really hard when they least expect it to get it to pop out. But then you get to be the Tooth Fairy and give students a reward (that is valuable to them but hopefully doesn’t break your bank).

I got to be the Tooth Fairy today. Today a kid, who showed me on day 3 that writing was really hard for him, pulled that metaphorical paragraph tooth all by himself. He worked so hard to make that paragraph appear! He, of his own volition, gave up 7 extra minutes of recess while his classmates played ultimate tag and pulled that paragraph out of his head, without my string! I was so proud of him!

When I called home this afternoon, his mother answered with the hesitant hello of typical of someone who is accustomed to getting fierce conversations about their boy at the end of the school day. She was surprised that all I wanted to say was how proud I was of her kid who has such a difficult time writing (or sitting still or not using scissors for strange tasks). I am going to confidently predict that kid is going to show me his very best writing on the beginning of year assessment tomorrow.

And that brings me, rambling, to this week’s best bit of advice for teachers.

Don’t forget, early in the year, to call the parents of your hardest kids (you know who they are going to be by now) and put a little in the bank for later. Really see their kid for the child that they can be and want to be and praise them genuinely to their parents. Later, you are going to have some hard conversations with these parents and they will remember that from the start you knew exactly what their kid has inside them to be amazing.

It is money in the bank for later; you are really going to need that parent’s support and expertise when that same kid is making you feel confused, frustrated, insane, or (fill in the blank). Instead of questioning the choices that brought you to this crazy profession, you’ll be able to draw on that resource you planted in September and harvest a positive outcome for a gummy situation.

I promise that it will pay off with interest if you just think about those kids now and make an effort, before the week is out, to make the investment.

2 thoughts on “Put it in the bank account for later

  1. My “putting it inthe bank” today resulted in an email from a new parent, telling me she ” loves me already.” I emailed her to help her prep her ASD son for the sort of chaos to expect from the first couple of weeks at AACL. Later, realized I had emailed her from my personal email while fielding forty-leven questions from the class of 3rd & 4th graders I was supervising. I replied to her to provide my official school address, and pointed out that I had also already lost my coffee 4 times and my glasses twice. Her reply was that of first love.

    I assigned her Thursday coffee-finding duties…


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