These Twenty Things

I get to wake up without an alarm clock going off for the next 14 days. I will eat leftover grilled ribeye steak for breakfast and Cheerios for lunch. I will drink IPA for dinner and go to my mailbox in my pajamas. I will take a luxurious bath. 

As we wrap up 2016, I’d like to humbly share these 20 things that I have done — or will/want to do — and suggest that you too may want to do some of these things as a human and as a teacher.

  1. Find a reason to make caramelized onions. You can add it to your favorite pasta sauce or mashed potatoes.
  2. Call a parent to let her know how much you appreciate having her kid in your class. Maybe the kid is struggling in your class, but nonetheless, he is kind and laughs at all your jokes.
  3. Listen to country music to realize that your pain ain’t so bad after all — not the country from Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw or any of them pretty boys — I mean outlaw country music from David Allan Coe and Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.
  4. Lie to your students that they were always on your mind during winter break, then let them hear Willie Nelson’s Always on My Mind.
  5. Watch La Maison en Petits Cubes by Kunio Katō. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2008.
  6. Make hot chocolate for each kid in your favorite class. Seriously. (Point out to your non-favorite classes that they’d done a poor job in sucking up to you, hence going forward, they ought to try harder.)
  7. Stop consuming products with the label “lite” on it. Sure, it might mean 1/3 fewer calories and 1/2 less fat, but did you know it also means 1/10 of the taste?!
  8. Ask your students, “Did you know that diarrhea is genetic?” Let them ponder that for a few seconds, then say, “Yeah, it runs in your jeans.”
  9. Buy the latest book from #MTBoS: Tracy, Christopher, Mike, John and Matt, Edmund, Malke. (I’m sure I’m missing some people. Please help me out.)
  10. Treat the entire 180 days of school as flu season, spray bleach on everything in your classroom. Avoid the students’ eyeballs.
  11. Finish reading The Sound of Gravel. (For God’s sake, make time to read a non-nerdy book!)
  12. Lie — yes, again! — to your students that you’d graded all their papers over winter break. Then know that you’re fucked and must skip dinner [and life] to grade papers like a squirrel on crack that evening.
  13. Make something from scratch that you’ve never made before, like a baguette. If it comes out looking and tasting like shit, toss it immediately and buy frozen. (Ashli‘s number will be on speed dial as I attempt this.)
  14. Remind students that kindness trumps everything you do in your classroom.
  15. Be kind to yourself. Buy that item you didn’t get for Christmas from your favorite person who is now no longer your favorite. If you sleep next to this person, scream, “I hate you!” in the middle of the night like you are dreaming, except you aren’t.
  16. Connect with your students. Stand up for them. Speak up for them. Difficult decisions aren’t so difficult when we all put children first.
  17. Go to church, go to counseling, go to a friend. Reach out to someone because talking about stuff helps. Writing stuff down helps too. But it’s best to meet up with that person because a good hug is worth the drive.
  18. You are part of a team. Find the rest of your team and collaborate and share strategies and seek solutions. Leave the whiners and downers in the teachers’ lounge.
  19. Let’s not make a list of New Year’s resolutions. It’s like the goddamn pacing guide, sets us up for failure every time. Just repeat #15 above — minus the psycho screaming part, do that just once. Okay, twice. Definitely not more than three times.
  20. Critique the effectiveness of your lesson, not by what answers students give, but by what questions they ask.
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