Monday, September 5, 2016

Hard Work; Is it its Own Reward?

As the school year gets ready to start once again in NYC, I start to go into full on panic mode.  September 6th is my first day back and I anticipate getting a solid 2-3 hours of sleep tonight.  Why?  This is my 16th first day of school.  I know what I'm doing.  I'm a good teacher.  Why the anxious, nausea inducing feeling that I've gotten nothing done?

It must be because I'm panicky by nature, and I am.  But it's also that I always have to have something cooking, brewing, you know a new project in the works.  I've been teaching for 16 years, right?  I should have every lesson down pat, memorized verbatim, ready to go.  But that bores me. I teach ELA and I have quite a bit if freedom in the books I can use in my classroom.  I could use the same books year in and year out, but I don't.  The one unit that always remains in my non fiction unit on animals, it's a personal passion, and even there I switch it up with one new book every few years.  Last year I added Oogy, a book about a former bait dog adopted into his furever home.  And at the end of the year, I added Cinder.  

Two new books in one year.  That's a lot of work.  This year I'm adding Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and Breakout Edu boxes (I'll share that in a future post).  This is hours of work for me.  Frustrating, cursing, wanting to throw things across the room work.  So why do I do it?  The kids love the books I used last year, my kids this year will love them too.  Why add all of this extra work, when really I'm the only one who knows?  

Because I'm a masochist.  Most teachers are.  But really it's because I like the challenge of completing a project.  I like seeing a deadline and working to get my project done by that date.  And it keeps me connected to my kids.  They are always working to finish something on time.  It's difficult to work hard and know your only reward is a good grade.  That's not tangible and we all know kids love tangible.  It's takes a lot of strength of character for a 10-12 year old to sit and work when there's no immediate, physical reward, and yet they do it.  The hard work is its own reward.  

By constantly updating my repertoire, not only am I keeping my teaching fresh and new, introducing great new books to my students, but I'm also connecting with them on a more subtle level.  Yes, you have to do this assignment.  Why?  Not because you will get in trouble if you don't and not because you might fail, but because you will get a feeling of accomplishment that will carry through to adulthood.  So yes, hard work is often its own reward and that is one of the best lessons I teach my kids every year. 

And now here's a tangible reward for finishing my blog post.  Enter to win 1 of 2 gift cards, a $50 Amazon gift card or a $40 TpT gift card.  Good Luck!

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  1. I always get nervous before the start of the new school year, too. We have our first week in already so the nerves have subsided a bit. I also love using new books each year. It is more work, but I get bored reading the same books every year. Reading new books makes me excited, which transfers to the students. I hope you have a great first day tomorrow!

  2. All the best for your first day Amanda! Great blog post! I look forward to learning more about the books you are focusing on with your class this year.

  3. Good luck with the new school year! I also thrive on setting goals and challenges for myself. It's a great lesson to pass on to your students.