Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I just noticed that my last post was number 300. What that signifies, I have no idea. What I do know is that I've been drowning in work this week. Not 8th grade teaching work, but the work I had to do for my gifted class. My job has been pretty easy this week, thanks to benchmark testing, (which uses up entirely too much instructional time, by the way), but I've had to race home every day and hunker down at the computer writing up strategy lessons. You'd think I'd be good at writing lesson plans, but the truth is I've been blessed with principals who put more stock in the actual teaching one does than in the ability to write beautiful lesson plans. Very often my best teaching moments come from last minute ideas and decisions to try something new. It's not that I teach by the seat of my pants, it's that I've been teaching long enough to have a lot of practical knowledge about what kinds of activities work with middle school students. At the risk of offending someone, I think teachers who have binders of beautiful lessons often teach in a vacuum, without reacting to the needs of their students. While it may be easier to teach from the same lesson plans year after year, I have different students every year who come with different needs and what worked fabulously last year may fall flat this year. Add to that the fact that I'm continually learning about what I do and that my attention span is pretty short and you get someone who tries new things all the time. I think that's what keeps this vocation of mine fresh and new and exciting and I hope that excitement is conveyed to my students as well.

If I sound like I love what I do, it's because I do. Love what I do. I feel that teaching is my calling and even though I know I probably should get paid more for what I do, I feel awfully lucky that I even get paid at all. Doing what I love, even with all of the frustrations and paperwork that come with it, is such a gift. Spending five days a week getting to know so many wonderful young people is my great good fortune.


  1. I used to teach with a man who would brag that he never forgot to get his attendance taken or his lesson plans turned in...He was a nice man, but he wasn't a very good teacher. I so agree with you that you sometimes have to go with the moment when you're teaching. That what makes it a craft. Dictating what page all teachers must be teaching at a particular hour on a particular day doesn't leave much room for real learning. I'm glad to hear there are people out there like you who are still really teaching despite all of the ridiculous political dictates.