Half Century Plus One

I remember reading Shireen’s wonderful post last year when she turned 50 and thought, We’re the same age, and I want to celebrate turning 50 too! Well, I missed my chance to write something last year, but it’s never too late, so I’m stealing Shireen’s prompt “50 things I’ve learned about teaching” and broadening it to “51 thing I’ve learned about teaching and growing” because I turned 51 last month.

  1. De-clutter. When Megan and her hubs visited me in my 2-bedroom apartment in February, she looked around and asked, “Where’s all your stuff?”
  2. Smile and say hello to strangers.
  3. Tell students how awesome you are.
  4. Buy fresh flowers for yourself. I get whatever is on sale at the market, like right now I have two bunches of gladioli for $1.99 each. IMG_4113
  5. When a kid is rude or mean, stop everything and point that out. Then you can add, “I care about you and everyone in this room, and I need you to be kind.”
  6. You don’t have to continue with a bad lesson.
  7. Share with your students your hobbies and maybe your adulthood fear.
  8. Commit to listening to someone without interrupting and judging.
  9. Call a parent to tell him how much you appreciate having his child in your class.
  10. Add butter to your cooking. To sauté anything, I heat up equal amounts of olive oil and butter, add a ton of garlic (and/or shallots) and cook until fragrant, then add your food and toss everything up. Season with just salt and fresh ground pepper.
  11. Plant some fresh herbs and eat them! I’m always growing rosemary, basil, and mint. IMG_4114
  12. Tell people you love that you love them. Say it all the time, even when you’re slightly mad at them.
  13. Catch students being good. Go overboard with praising them.
  14. Ask students to pick up any trash around them, and model this.
  15. Tell students how much you respect and appreciate a colleague.
  16. Splurge on something for yourself. I have a set of high thread-count sheets.
  17. Always leave a place neater and cleaner than how you’d found it.
  18. Get to know all the dogs in the neighborhood.
  19. Avoid all mean people. Because mean people suck.
  20. There’s probably a reason why certain people are mean.
  21. Be the first to say sorry, especially to your family and students.
  22. Let the person you love have the last word.
  23. Find humor in self-deprecation.
  24. Find strength in self-love.
  25. Remember that fibbing is lying.
  26. Show gratitude daily. Remind yourself of all the things you do have.
  27. Tackle a challenging math problem. Make this a regular thing.
  28. Tell that one person to fuck off because he/she had hurt you for the umpteenth time. Then walk away and stay away.
  29. Laugh out loud with your students. Be funny. Have fun.
  30. Create a classroom environment that your younger student self would want to be in.
  31. Reach out to your colleagues for guidance. Reciprocate generously.
  32. Try to keep your classroom tidy and clean. Sanitize all surfaces!
  33. Always put children first. Feed them first. Take care of their needs first. (Your students are these children.)
  34. Sing loudly in your car when driving alone.
  35. Most of the time, it’s not about you. Be okay with that.
  36. When people need to vent about their family member, they really don’t want you to agree with them.
  37. Always be on time. Update your ETA if you’re running behind.
  38. Don’t underestimate students’ abilities. Don’t overestimate their sensitivities.
  39. It’s likely that whatever topic you’re teaching is not the student’s top priority right now. It’s only school. It’s not for everyone. It’s not you.
  40. Have more last-minute picnics.
  41. Only your opinion matters when it comes to how that outfit looks on you.
  42. Go hiking more. Rachel does it best.
  43. Make time for your friends. Sam does it best.
  44. Deliver a plate of homemade food to your next-door neighbor. Make it pretty and include the recipe or list of ingredients. (Not cool should they die eating your food.)
  45. Eat a new food. Thai? Moroccan? Persian? I think it’s the only way to truly know its people.
  46. Give less homework or give none at all. (I’m working on this.) Encourage children, big or small, to play outside.
  47. “Feelings are boring. Kisses are awesome.” David has this t-shirt.
  48. Ask for help. And be willing to help because it was probably not easy for the person to ask for your help.
  49. “Forgive but never forget.” Like the tattoo on my daughter’s arm. 2016-05-27_18-59-20
  50. Be the teacher you’d want your own child to have. Teach hard. Teach true.
  51. Consider stabbing yourself with a sharp pencil before committing to writing a list of 51 anything.
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