At this time of year when semester grades are posted, some parents receive the bad news that their students have not passed muster. It gets to be too much when some of them snap back and question their child’s lack of progress. Have you read with your son who despises reading books? Have you tried working math problems or hired a tutor? Have you asked questions that require more than monosyllabic responses, or did you just hand them an electronic device to “shut them up?” I have a little more than forty minutes per class period to engage students. Some of their attention spans require medication. Others remain focused. On their friends or crushes. On their social media or gaming accounts. It would seem that I am destined to forever compete for the consolation prize. The number of students with attention disorders increases each year that I teach. The number of students monitored under Special Education or Section 504 does the same thing.
When such maudlin thoughts touch my mind, and I question my calling in life, I must remember there is a silver lining somewhere. I need encouragement on the black days like anyone else. One of the best sources of nourishment for the soul is laughter. Another source is friendship. Being able to laugh out loud at least once or twice a day lightens the soul. A quick comment or insight from that clever friend whose perspective on life borders on madness can bring a smile to the face. A shared look during a life-draining, “It’s only been forty-seven minutes out of six hours!” presentation can bolster one’s strength. One of my goals each year is to bond more deeply with my team members. We need to laugh until we weep, we need to vent our common frustrations, we need to listen to insight from that quiet team member whose wisdom is gold, we need to discuss and implement plans for recalcitrant students, we need to celebrate our super stars, and we need to move forward each day.