Nap rooms are now part of the offices at the Huffington Post. Adrianna Huffington sees sleep deprivation as “stupidity, not success.” Huffington employees are allowed to nap on the job in their nap pods. Other high profile business owners, like Michael Hyatt, nap every day. Hyatt used a zero gravity recliner for naps in his previous job as CEO of Thomas Nelson.
Teachers use tons of energy in a day. We arrive at work before break of day, answer hundreds of questions, explain, direct, discern, decide, and keep it up nonstop for seven to eight hours. How many other professions deal with so much energy before eight o’clock in the morning? We can’t gradually ease into our day.
“Look at this.” Eli scooted up to the table to begin his morning work and held a pencil toward his dad. “See. That’s how the pencils are around here.”
Eli’s father chuckled.
I smiled at my little comedian. “Really. Who runs this place anyway?”
Eli shrugged. “One day we have new pencils and the next all the erasers are gone.”
“Why don’t you talk to your teacher about that problem?”
Bewilderment covered Eli’s face. “You are my teacher, you know.”
I lectured myself for not double checking the pencils. Yep, your inadequate teacher. How could such a little thing trigger such a huge emotion in me? I scrambled through a drawer and handed Eli a fat eraser. “Use the Pink Pearl and new pencils are on the way.”
Inadequate, inadequate, my brain screamed. The boy just needs a pencil. What’s so hard about that? I ground Eli’s new pencil through the sharpener while I decided to find someone to blame.
Dear Pencil Makers of America,
My students burn the rubber eraser tips so fast I need a pit crew assembled to hand out new pencils every lap or two around an assignment. Pencils that split down the sides, wood hugs the graphite tip, sharpened tips crack immediately, and pencils break in half.
Does a tough-enough-for-a-first-grader pencil exist?
Thank you for your attention to the traumas in a first grade classroom.
In spite of all the work that goes into teaching something fails. Not an epic failure, but even a teeny tiny miss bothers us.
Definition of a teacher: quick thinker, swift-footed, prepared, strong, totally about pulling off the perfect school day, crumbles internally when something goes wrong, recovers quickly and determines the next week, day, moment will be the best.
We feel pain in our profession: loss of community support, loss of financial support, loss of respect. Yet, the greatest pain we experience is our own cruel self-talk. And something as silly as a pencil tip can trigger this cycle of thinking.
Eli didn’t know it, but I had a killer reading lesson planned for him that day and he was going to leave school as a deeper thinker, with a higher vocabulary, and the self-confidence to talk to adults about his real world problems.
The mistake is the mean-teacher, self-talk. Stop. Give yourself grace. Who cares if pencils aren’t perfect when we have the privilege of sharpening minds?
What little thing is your tipping point? In what way are you hard on yourself?
How do you keep yourself revved up and unbroken? How do you recover?
Let’s have a two-way conversation about teaching. Please comment.
Revolution begins one classroom at a time.