It’s a word that seems to echo through the halls of every school in this town, this state and I’m sure this country.
Every minute of a teacher’s day is to be purposeful. Every activity that one plans has to be purposeful; every spare minute of the day should be filled with purposeful activities; every speaker, craft, project, book, lesson, song or utterance must be purposeful.
It’s funny, because I’ve spent my whole teaching career planning lessons, activities, crafts and projects that are important to each student’s learning. And I’m pretty sure that they were all purposeful.
I made plans to have coffee after school today with a wonderful teacher that still works in my old school. You remember that school, right? Well, this particular teacher was MY student intern over 12 years ago, and who happens to be a loving, nurturing teacher who we’ll call Mrs. Spectacular.
We hugged, laughed, talked a mile a minute for the first twenty minutes and then settled into a lovely give and take of the good, the bad and the ugly. We talked about curriculum, behavior problems and successes, testing, academics, and purposeful teaching. We shared our successes and our struggles, our hopes and our dreams and I was reminded about how very important it is to have friends.
Yeah, we’ve all got friends; friends we see each morning as we walk down the halls; friends we see at the grocery store, church or the gym. But I’m talking about the friends who know what’s in your heart and who have seen your soul. People who have seen you at your very best, your very worst, and love you all the more.
Mrs. Spectacular looked at me at then end of our venting session and smiled. We'd been talking about purposeful teaching, and how activities that feed a students soul and heart ARE purposeful. Activities that are developmentally appropriate for 6 year-olds OR ten year-olds ARE purposeful. Activities that build community, raise self-esteem and lift their spirits ARE purposeful.
“You know, Vodka. We spent a whole year learning and teaching together side by side. After that we worked across the hall from each other, and then across the school from each other. I’ve learned so many different things from you. But really, I think the most important thing I’ve learned about you is that you don't just teach first grade, second grade, fifth grade or kindergarten. You have always, always taught the child. And that is the most important thing I’ve learned from you.
You are purposeful; everything you do is purposeful for each and every child in your room, and the heart inside that child. And because of that lesson, so am I.”
Oh man, who needs therapy? Go right now and have dinner with a friend. You’ll leave with a smile, I guarantee it.
(And honestly, I learned just as much or more from her...)