Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is this the day to set one's hair on fire?

While this may not have been the day that I set my hair on fire and ran screaming from the building, I thought about it.

Quite a bit.

In fact, a lot.

But that doesn’t really tell you much, so let’s quantify that.

This flaming thought whooshed through my mind faster than a west Texas grassfire. It was enough to make me crank up the volume on my latest favorite song by Kirby Brown, “No…My Generation” in order to drown out the voices of the those kiddos not working in the next room.

My sticker
It was enough to make me half-smile at the irony of this particular sticker affixed to my computer.

And it was more than enough to ponder the sanity of keeping a box of matches in my top left drawer.

And it was certainly enough to make me search for that letter I received from the University of Alabama in a last ditch effort to reminded me once again why I do this teaching thing.

But sadly I’m not sure that’s even enough any more.

I almost didn’t open the packet, thinking it was just another batch of recruiting stuff that I really didn’t want to clutter my desk. But I did open the package because I never throw away something without taking at least a tiny peekeroo.

The packet had some nifty cards with interesting photographs and envelopes that I could use. The tossed the cards into the clutter on my desk, and the letter was headed for the trash can, but I decided to quickly scan it before tossing it away. You just never know when there might be a prize for a free trip to Barbados hidden in there.

The beginning of the letter was a bit unusual, so I read the rest and discovered that my newspaper editor from last year named me as a teacher who contributed the most to her success.

That letter stopped me from setting my hair on fire. It was enough to make me come back to teach another day. And, hopefully it will be enough to provide a bridge to cross through the rest of the semester into the summer.

Unfortunately, it didn’t solve the gajillion problems I have had with this year’s newspaper and yearbook staffs and other "things."

And no, it didn’t fix the craziness that surrounds me or filters out what those in my wing fondly refer to as the “stupid air” that seems to swirl around us. 
My top left desk drawer

And no, it didn’t stop my latest flurry of detentions and office referrals. And no, it didn’t make me throw away my box of matches. They remain tucked not-so-neatly in my top left hand desk drawer.

But my hair isn’t on fire and I showed up for work today and that ought to count for something.

We know for the most part teachers have a thankless job and that’s OK. But sometimes it’s nice to get that thanks especially on those set-your-hair-on-fire kind of days, or in my case, those set-your-hair-on-fire kind of years.

So even though it was a form letter probably sent to a gajillion teachers, I think much of what was written in it applies to so many teachers. So let’s assume your letter got lost in the mail (along with that free trip to Barbados we’re all still waiting for). So, if you have been struggling to find a reason to finish out the year, this is for you…

 “Such is the work of the great teacher, to bring coherence and the perception of beauty out of it, if not chaos, yet the fragmentation that is common reality. This is the application of insight to outsight. Again and again students coming to our Honors College speak of the high school teachers who have changed their lives by enabling them to change a view of the world. They say they could always understand the poems, complete the experiments, solve the problems, but those great teachers brought them to possession of the coherent beauty of literature, science or, especially, mathematics. These are the teachers who have provided the “Aha!,” the “Voila!,” the “Eureka!,” the [light bulb moment]! Teachers such as you.”

So put down that match and live to keep your hair another day.   


Miss Angel said...

I'm guessing at least 99% of all student never do express their appreciation for the teachers who have made a major difference in their lives. So just think... for every one student who DOES thank you, there are at least 99 other students whose lives you've changed as well! :D

Fran said...

I like the comment about the "stupid air"! It's been one of those years where I ponder a career change over and over again. Thanks for reminding us all why we teach.