Conferences frequently remind me of how lucky I am and how much I have to be thankful for. I talked with a number of people in the bloggers’ café at ISTE about their schools, districts, and states, and was quite grateful for mine. Teachers shared situations in which they have to write up scripted lesson plans for the week, page after page of what they will say when and what the students will do. They talked about having to post “I Can” statements on their walls, keeping them constantly updated throughout the year, ready for random checks by administration. This was even true in kindergarten classrooms where the students couldn't yet read the statements! Strict pacing was another issue faced by some teachers. If it’s October 4th then here is exactly what should be taught in each subject that day.
None of those things takes into account the humanness of students or others in a school.
I think it's human nature to find the flaws and negatives in any situation. However, I'm always grateful for the reminder of how wonderful my school and my colleagues are.
I've also been reading a couple of books that have reinforced this: A Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Jacobs spends time focusing on how thankful he is for even the smallest things and finds it to be quite a joyful experience. Hillenbrand's book is about a POW in Japan during WWII and his strength and faith through trauma and chaos were powerful reminders of all I have. Both books are fabulous.
Image from Sue Waters' flickr.