Friday, April 7, 2017

Work Ethic

I shared this post from Twitter today on Facebook. I had come across it on there and it made me pause. It wasn't that I didn't agree with the message, I did, I just knew I had been guilty of the crime before.

In my first years in fourth grade I remember having a bulletin board that said, "The ants go marching on.." and each student created this ant drawing. With twenty-five students, we began to take one down each day as we approached the end of the year. This would be when I still cared about bulletin boards being cute or crafty, of course - seventeen years ago.

I honestly didn't think anything of it. For years in fourth grade I bemoaned kids attention span as we got closer to summer. I'd say things like "they're already checked out" or "their minds are on baseball/softball/swimming/fill in the blank - not school." And it was true, they were turned towards summer, but so was I. I wasn't being the greatest of role models.

I think about that often, role models. I've had several administrators comment on my work ethic over my twenty plus years in education. My parents were the ones that drilled that in. By example they showed me what it meant to work hard. You showed up every day, there was no skipping out. You worked harder than you were asked, stayed longer than you were told. Your character was reflected in the job you did. 

As a kid, that translated to my job as a student. I could have worked harder, and was grounded often when they felt I wasn't working up to my potential. It was infuriating, but I knew they held me to a higher standard. There was no staying home for a cold, no being late to school, no excuse for late work. While I didn't understand the importance of this as a kid, I certainly do as an adult. 

In the classroom we talk about this all the time. I expect my students to show up for school, to be in class on time, to turn in their homework. Does this mean 100% of the time they actually do this? Nope. But that's my standard. Public education is a gift. We look around the world at everyone that doesn't have it. I ask them to consider what they've been given. To treat it with the respect it deserves. 

Today we began PARCC testing. Not my favorite three days of the year, nor my students. I wondered what middle school kids would be like taking this test? Elementary kids are often stressed. Sometimes they rush. Day one, two tests in, my homeroom astounded me. They worked hard. While I don't love the tests, I love the way these kids attacked them and did their best. 

Which brings me back to that tweet. How many days left this year? I'm glad to say I didn't know, but I checked for this post.  Thirty-one. And I could look at it as thirty-one days left until summer, but I'm looking at it as thirty-one days to teach these kids everything I can. Thirty-one days left to make a difference. Thirty-one days left to say everything I can, to make an impact that will last a lifetime. It doesn't seem like long enough.