Actor, Philanthropist, Set Designer…Just a Few of the Many Roles of a Teacher

Actor, Philanthropist, Set Designer…Just a Few of the Many Roles of a Teacher

The other day, I shared this quote from 'Best Teacher' on Facebook.

"Every school in America has teachers working for free on a daily basis. Go by any school parking lot early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or even at night or on the weekends, and you will see them. No overtime, no bonuses or promotions on the one–just doing it for their students! Teachers are using their free time, and often investing their own money, for children's literacy, prosperity, and future…"

A couple people made comments on the post I shared, and one person commented this:

"This happens in every industry where salaried professionals approach their job with dedication and urgency. It's SOP."

There certainly are many people in many different professions who go above and beyond, yet this comment helps me realize that people still do not understand what a dedicated teacher's life looks like. I brainstormed the list below based on what I see from teachers in my school. Take a look at this list and I think you will agree that many other professionals do some of these things, but I am not sure we can find one that does them all. And, this list is nowhere near comprehensive.

Actor: A teacher is not allowed to have a bad day, they need to be on their game in order to make every day count for student learning. That does not mean they are positive and upbeat every day. That means that they are good actors who have to push their own emotions aside for the benefit of students.
Philanthropist: Buying sets of glue sticks with their own credit card, not the school credit card. In fact, they have no school credit card. Often, they hide these purchases from a spouse because they spend so much on their classroom. So, in addition to being broke, they have guilt about it.
Set Designer: Setting up the classroom like a set of a play, single-handedly, to create an optimal learning environment.
Then, changing it, multiple times a year, when the needs of the students change.
Researcher: Endlessly searching for ideas to make school come alive for students, because our competition for their attention is video games, virtual reality, YouTube videos, etc.
Character Developer: Not only worrying about teaching them reading, writing and arithmetic, but also wanting to help them become the amazing little people they know they can be.
Public Relations Specialist: Managing a class website and/or weekly newsletter to make sure parents have the information they need to support student learning. Being active on social media–Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.–to garner ideas for the classroom as well as to share ideas.
Learner: Reading books, attending professional development, endlessly learning.
Data Analyst: Constantly analyzing the data we get from students, data collected in a formal way like through assessments as well as informal data like daily classroom observations. We input data into whatever system our school district has chosen and use the data to adjust instruction to meet the needs of students, to complete report cards, to inform school initiatives, etc.
Second Shift: Staying at school well into the night finishing up report cards, holding parent/teacher conferences, preparing for a field trip or the beginning of a big, exciting unit of study.
Dancer: Rehearsing a staff dance number after school to share with students during half-time of a student/teacher basketball game.
Accountant: Collecting money for things like field trips, keeping track of who has paid and who hasn't, sending out notices (sometimes multiple notices) when parents haven't paid yet. Then, paying out of their own pocket when a family can't afford to send in the money.
Counselor: Helping children work through any problems that come up–interpersonal problems, learning problems, family problems, etc. Then, communicating with parents–often well into the evening–to make sure parents are well-informed about what is troubling their child at school.
Comedian: Making sure that laughter is a part of the classroom every day.
Motivational Speaker: Inspiring students to do their very best work, to dream of the possibilities in their future, to support each other in the classroom.
Conflict Manager: Do you have a couple kids of your own? Ever have to manage their conflicts? Picture having 25-30 children, maybe more, and helping them manage their conflicts. We don't get to send them to their rooms, we have to support them in working out the problem in a way that works for both of them, while not interfering with the learning of the rest of the class.

You notice I did not even list the curriculum work teachers do–they are handed manuals and a list of learning goals and they are task with making sure each student progresses in the that curriculum in a meaningful way. As you can see, teachers are more than dedicated professionals, they are public servants who put incredible pressure on themselves to serve their students. I have to agree with John Wooden,

"I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession."

Teachers, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for working for free, for embracing your varied roles, for being perpetual learners.

You amaze me every day.

You are amazing.


My Kids Are Incredible Failures

My Kids Are Incredible Failures

We went golfing a few weeks back and I was struck by how awful my 10-year-old was at hitting the ball. Yet, he wouldn’t give up. Whiff after whiff, he kept swinging the club, and he even started having a little fun by imitating Happy Gilmore. My eyes filled with tears at what an incredible failure he was. Tears of laughter and tears of pride.

I have been thinking about this post for a while now, and I have talked with both of my sons about the message. I have a very difficult time writing about parenting because I don’t claim to be an effective parent. Yet. The success of my parenting skills will be determined much later, when my sons are living happy lives, uplifting others, and defining their own success. The proof is in the pudding.

My sons are not little princes. They are little people–well, actually, it is just months before BOTH of them are bigger than me. The thing I want them to learn more than anything in this whole world is that they make their own happiness. And I want them to learn how to make their own happiness. That mission means they need to fail a lot. They need to laugh, brush themselves off, learn from their mistakes, and move on. With a smile most of the time. Although, it is a little ironic that I’m writing this while parenting a 15-year-old boy. He does smile often, just not at me at this point in his life. To him, I am a super dork, especially when I make videos.

My kids have failed at pretty much everything at one point or another–from sports, to academics, to relationships, to keeping their rooms clean. They will keep failing, and they will keep being annoyed at my, “So what will you do now?” response. 

It’s a good thing that I am a failure too.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

-Theodore Roosevelt 

Author’s Note:  This was posted with the full support of my contributing editors, my sons.

Loyalty: asset or a disadvantage in the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in?

Loyalty:  asset or a disadvantage in the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in?

A person can be loyal to a fault, don’t you think? For instance, someone who stays in an abusive relationship. Or someone who fails to change with a company only to work himself out of a job. Or a person who ignores an amazing opportunity to change her life for the better because of loyalty to her current employer.

Over the course of my life, I have often pondered the value of loyalty. Not only the value of loyalty in my own life but also the value of loyalty in general in the world today. Is loyalty an asset or a disadvantage in the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in?

Change is nothing new, our world has always been in a state of change. Tales of woe and disbelief about change are nothing new either. Oh dear, I wonder what poor Thomas Sheridan would think of the language we use to text or tweet?

The total neglect of this art [speaking] has been productive of the worst consequences..the wretched state of elocution is apparent to persons of any discernment and taste… if something is not done to stop this growing evil …English is  likely to become a mere jargon, which every one may pronounce as he pleases.

-Thomas Sheridan, from the preface to the 1780 book A General Dictionary of the English Language

Thomas’ alarm at the state of the English language was a mere 237 years ago. Let’s go back even further to see what Socrates thought of the youth of 400 BC.

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.


Luxury in 400 BC? Ha! As we can see, change happens, always has and always will. Are we better off being loyal, or are we better off being fluid with our allegiances?

When pondering something, it’s fun to simplify questions by looking basic information, like definitions, synonyms, and antonyms of words. Here is a Merriam-Webster definition of the word loyal:  the quality or state of being true and constant support of someone or something. 

Looking at antonyms for the word loyal, I was dismayed to find only words like “disloyal” and “unfaithful”. Those words do not adequately sum up the opposite of “true and constant support”. Might words like flexibility or fluidity fit better as antonyms for loyal?

Loyalty certainly has value, especially with relationships. I am blessed to have loyal friends, some friendships dating back 30+ years. I am loyal to my family and we support each other through the ups and downs of our lives. I have been married for over 17 years and loyalty to my children goes without saying; we are each other’s biggest fans.

Loyalty to sports teams can bring great joy or great sorrow. Yet, we likely would not have the great joy without the great sorrow because victory is never so sweet as after repeated defeat. Just ask Cubs fans. This Lions fan is still waiting for the great joy, ever so patiently.

Loyalty to a career or to an employer is in a precarious state as our world is getting smaller and smaller and options are increasing by the millisecond. In a world where people change careers over and over as they pursue their passions, loyalty to a career that may not be the best fit could stall chances for tremendous success. Loyalty to a particular employer could do the same thing.

Going back to the examples of being loyal to a fault…someone who stays in an abusive relationship. Or someone who fails to change with a company only to work himself out of a job. Or a person who ignores an amazing opportunity to change her life for the better out of loyalty to her current employer. Are these examples of loyalty or are they examples of fear of change or perhaps of a lack of self-confidence?

I have the answer, finally, that I have been looking for all this time. It comes in the form of a new definition of loyalty:

Healthy loyalty is the quality or state of being true and constant support of someone or something that helps you be the person you want to be.

Healthy loyalty checklist:

  • Is the source of your loyalty a fear of change?
  • Is a lack of self-confidence driving your desire to remain loyal to where you are?
  • Use five words to describe the person you want to be.
  • Does the change help you become that person?
  • Does remaining loyal help you become that person?

Please share ideas you have about loyalty, healthy loyalty, and questions to ask yourself when determining the source of loyalty.

SOURCE for Thomas Sheridan quote

SOURCE for image