I tried to think of a good name for this guy, but came up empty.
Who doesn’t love reading outside? Especially with the huge storm coming our way today that will threaten to keep us indoors? Actually reading inside by a roaring fire sounds pretty good too.
This image is recycled from another project. The original is much larger and has another girl in it as well. I cropped the image of the girl reading to use on a poster to promote Free Reading Fridays. This is a slightly modified version where I worked out all the stuff I didn’t like in the first one. Of course, this only made some other rough spots evident, but most of the time I’m the only one that notices that.
I’m also trying to be more deliberate in my color choices now. The first thing I’m doing is working with a limited color palate – in this case, red and green. Everything here is a variation of those two colors. I’m still not pleased with how the greens work together, so I still have some work to do.
Clip art of a guy reading on a stack of books. Eventually I’ll do a color version of this (or add some black and white shading) but I loved the retro look so I wanted to post it that way. It has a Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham feel that I like. This was achieved on purpose (using a dip pen to do the books) and by accident (my ink is getting a little goopy so it’s harder to control it on the brush, which gave it a dip pen appearance.)
Dip pens have always been difficult for me to manage, but I’m starting to get the hang of them and really like using them. You can’t control the line very well, and this forces me to accept a more spontaneous line that normal.
I just read a book called “Flourish” by Martin Seligman, which is about the field of positive psychology. He writes about how we are all actively seeking to flourish as human beings and the way we do that is by achieving well-being. Well-being is comprised of five components: positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. Go here if you are interested in reading more.
It’s interesting to consider how Seligman’s ideas apply to education. If you ask any random teacher why they teach, there’s a good chance that they will say they want to make a difference. While this is for many educators the most rewarding thing about teaching, when we go through a tough period it isn’t something we can fall back on for comfort because in most cases feeling like we aren’t making a difference is what caused us to feel lousy in the first place. Thus it’s important to keep in mind the other aspects of teaching that promote well-being that are a little more self centered.
For one thing, we get the opportunity to become experts in our field. I have taught Othello for years and know it so well that I don’t have to reread it and can quote several passages from memory. And every year I get a great deal of satisfaction while teaching it knowing that this is something I have down pat. However, there’s always something more to explore out there if I want to (this year it was looking up words from the play in the OED to see if they meant something different during Shakepeare’s day. Look up the word “nature” for some surprising antiquated meanings.) As much as I know about it, there is always a little bit more to discover.
Working towards mastery of something, even if we never get there, is very satisfying and ranks very high as an activity that gives our lives satisfaction. In fact, a colleague of mine, who gets a little depressed over the summer when she isn’t teaching, thinks that the problem is that she doesn’t get a daily chance to talk about her area of expertise.
Another place teachers can look to for well-being is the state of flow – when you are so engrossed in an activity that time passes without you knowing. As a new teacher it’s harder to achieve – you have to spend a lot of time managing all the parts of teaching you don’t have down yet. But the more I teach the more I find myself in a state of flow in the class. When this happens, I feel completely energized by the day as only being completely engrossed in something can do.
Even if we don’t feel like we are making a difference (and it would be unreasonable to assume that we do that every day) we can still take satisfaction from participating in something much larger than ourselves. There were teachers before us and teachers after us. Our students will continue to learn – in some fashion – after they leave our classroom in another grade or in post-graduate studies. When we retire, we are finished with our job, but our job isn’t finished.
This is a follow up to a post in which I questioned the value of the “What Teachers Make” story, in particular Taylor Mali’s version. I suggested that it was based on a faulty premise and turned beliefs into truths. I also noticed that he has turned this poem into a book subtitled “In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World.” This implies to me that most people don’t think this, and that Mali is being an advocate for teachers. The problem with this stuff is that I don’t find it inspiring. I find it depressing. If I wanted to quit teaching, this stuff would help seal the deal instead of encourage me to rethink my decision.
There are a couple of ideas that float around the back of many teachers’ minds and occasionally come to the surface. The first is that teaching is not a legitimate profession. The second is that teaching would be a legitimate profession if there was more money involved.
I question the sensibility of relying on others to determine whether what you do is legitimate or not. Everyone needs to make up their own mind about that.
It’s no secret where this doubt comes from. Many teachers feel like teaching is a sacrifice; something we chose to do while giving up something more lucrative. While this may be true, it also leads to a pervasive martyrdom syndrome in teaching. We feel like we should be praised for making this sacrifice, and get upset when people don’t do it.
I also question the sense in believing that more money automatically equals more respect. However, what troubles me more is that many teachers believe that if they made 10-20K more, then people would be entitled to think what they wanted about them. Who cares if people don’t respect you if you make enough dough?
The result of these are a series of stories that circulate fairly easily through social media. Teaching is not a noble profession. Teachers don’t work hard. Teaching is great but no one appreciates those who do it.
Here’s the real problem though: teachers are the ones who spread these stories around more than non-teachers.
I am friends with several teachers on Facebook and Linkedin. Many of them are the ones posting things about how teachers are undervalued.
I hear “those who can, do and those who can’t teach” more from teachers than non-teachers.
I am also likely to read more articles disparaging the profession because teachers circulate them rather than from stumbling across them in the media.
And many teachers, who are upset about how teachers are treated in general, then make snide comments about higher status professions. Or politicians.
The phenomenon where we surround ourselves only with those who agree with us is called an echo chamber, and social media has made it very easy for us to only listen to do that. And when it comes to belittling teachers, sometimes teachers are the best at it. They post not to inform, but to infuriate. Not to encourage, but to anger. Emotion disguised as truth.
Let’s be honest: you’re not going to get many disagreements if you tell people that they don’t get enough respect. These are pretty easy ideas to side with, and if you post something like this on Facebook of course every teacher will agree. The problem is these stories and articles frequently aren’t encouraging. I have no problem with people bringing my attention to something to build awareness. But much of this stuff, if I were to read it first thing in the morning, wouldn’t make me do my job any better that day. In fact, it will likely make me feel worse.
So let’s treat our profession with some compassion. When we read something about how bad our job is and consider sending it out to others, let’s first think of the following:
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?
Is this going to brighten someone’s day or make them feel discouraged and defeated? Will this cause this teacher to do a better job or foster a sense of futility? Is spreading stories about how teachers are not respected likely to make teachers be more respected? Or will respect come if we learn to be kind to ourselves first?
The bottom line is that teaching can be a job that requires a great deal from us, often times with little reward. We need to make sure that we help create a positive climate for our colleagues. This is the compassionate action to take.