I was born on Labor Day! Today is not my birthday, but I was born on Labor Day. I loved to hear the story my mom would tell me about my birth. They were on a picnic on that Labor Day, when I decided to make my entrance into the world. Mom said that they barely made it to the hospital before I was born.
Yep – I was born on Labor Day. I worked my way into the world on that day, and have been working ever since. My life has been filled with work of one kind or another: taking care of my younger brothers and sisters, practicing baton, teaching baton, working a variety of jobs, marriage, my own children, teaching… Some of my work was filled with joy. Some work – not so joyful. But I valued the opportunity to work.
Work at its best incorporates rest and reflection. One of the reasons teaching has become more difficult is because in today’s schools we have lost that time of reflection, the time to process and think about our work and its impact on those we teach. Administrators will say – we do give teachers reflection through collaboration. We give teachers lots of time to plan with their peers. We give teachers lots of professional development opportunities. We give teachers time to write lessons that are consistent with the team and school initiatives. The list goes on and on, which is my point.
My view is that teachers also need some time to reflect on their own, by themselves – to prepare for their work – to do some planning on their own. But this is now seen as unproductive and this time is not seen as important to the teaching profession. Administrators believe teachers need to be with others, the team, planning and reflecting. They fail to see that we have lost something here. Teachers need some quiet reflection, and time to create on their own. This does not diminish the collaboration done with colleagues. This is just reminding administration how important “alone” time is for teachers both in preparation and reflection. Yet, this is not valued. Teachers are constantly bombarded with PD, team planning, their work… Administrators do not see how rejuvenation comes with some solitude to reflect before and after our labor. A labor of LOVE only comes with the opportunity to prepare and to think – to rest and reflect.
Teachers value their work. For most it is a labor of love. There exists a constant demand on the time of a teacher with very little time for self-reflection on their own and little time for actual preparation for the environment and for the learning being provided. Again, there is lots of collaboration time, but little “alone” time. It used to be that we had time to prepare and reflect, but with the emphasis on collaboration – that was taken away. This stifles individual creativity and processing. Yes – we plan and process with our team – but again, teachers need some time to plan, prepare, and process on their own.
On this Labor Day, I think about how we can show that we value the work of our teachers. We can show teachers we value them by providing adequate pay. We can show teachers we value them with environments and cultures that show we value their time, their thoughts, and their voices. We can show we value teachers by allowing their individual creativity, their alone time, opportunities to prepare the environment and learning, and giving them time to inspire themselves through individual reflection. Our teachers are providing a labor of love that impacts our children. Let’s value their “alone” time and give them opportunities for reflections and to re-visit why they went into this labor of love and why they continue to love this work.
My reflection for today,