Jack Black, flashing that familiar look every teacher gets this time of year.
Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:
Your legs are on the verge of cramping. Your feet get heavier with every step. Your lungs are asking for air, but you’re already breathing as fast as you can. You’ve been running forever and you know the finish line isn’t far off, but you can’t see it just yet. Every step is a mini battle within yourself not to quit.
I’m not a distance runner. Not even close. I also don’t have any say in how my family’s free time is scheduled, so about once or twice a year, my wife signs me up to run a 5k. Year after year I dutifully take on this challenge, nearly pass out at the finish line, then lay around and take the elevator until the following Wednesday. So, what does any of this have to do with teachers?
Plenty. Running is mostly unglamorous. No matter how many people are around you, it is an individual task. It takes a long time to see results, and only a short time to lose what you’ve gained. It has a way of letting deep-buried thoughts up to the surface whether you want them or not. Teaching shares all of these things.
I am also not a teacher. I have seen many teachers, though, and seen them up close. I’ve spoken to them about their frustrations, of which there are many. The frustration seems to build throughout the year, until eventually pessimism reigns and getting out of bed is a slog. Summer can’t come soon enough, just like that finish line at the end of the 5k.
Teachers – all of them – have to put up with some major crap. Do you remember yourself as a kid? Chances are, you were an annoying little jerk at least some of the time. Now think of your classmates. Oh, God. You were one of the better ones, weren’t you? Are you yearning for the days before Facebook when you could just graduate and be done with those people instead of having their ignorant views jamming your news feed all the time? Well, at least you don’t need to deal with them in real life anymore. You graduated. For teachers, those kids regenerate annually.
At my high school, there was a healthy number of kids that would go around breaking things for no reason – a door handle, toilet paper dispenser, drinking fountain, anything – then complain of how the school was falling apart. They didn’t pay attention in class, almost certainly drove our teachers insane and, come to think of it, can now be found on my news feed stewing in the politics of resentment at having been “left behind.”
I’m digressing. The point is, teachers are out there running this race day after day, year after year, and they are pulling kids along with them. The teachers I know want every last kid to learn, and their heart breaks for the kids that either can’t or won’t.
It’s May. The end of the school year is around the bend, and this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. So if a teacher ever pulled you through a race, now’s your chance to be one of the volunteers on the side of the track handing out those little cups of water. Find an old teacher of yours and tell him/her of the impact he/she had on your life.
If a teacher taught you how to run the race for yourself, find them and tell them how many miles you’ve covered and what you’ve seen along the way. I imagine there is no more satisfying thing to a teacher than to hear from a student who is now a thriving member of society, and whom credits them for having helped achieve that success.
The teachers in our area are something good in Erie. The article linked at the top has some terrific suggestions for how to help and encourage the teachers in our lives, so on this Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s help them get across the finish line.
Finally, if you’re an actual runner and you see someone down on Presque Isle shuffling along like a zombie in The Walking Dead this summer, teach me how to run.