Saturday, September 13, 2014

Searching for Ponies...

A person once defined positivity this way:  two little girls were shown two identical rooms filled with... manure.  One little girl folded her arms, stuck out her bottom lip, and began crying.  The other little girl gasped and jumped into the room, digging into the nasty-smelling stuff with joyous abandon.  When she was asked why she was doing that, she replied: "Well, with all this poo, there must be a pony in here somewhere!"

Sometimes in education, what we have is a lot of poo. We have meetings.  We have meetings ABOUT meetings. We have deadlines.  We have ofttimes conflicting standards coming at us from the local, state, and federal governments.  We have to have 100% of our children at or above grade level in all areas.  We have to follow rules and regulations set down by school boards or government agencies who often don't know much about the daily business of teaching.  We have to make sure that each of the students is testing at high levels, even when those students don't care about the tests, because those test scores may determine whether or not we get rehired.  We have to create life-long learners out of students who only live in the moment.  We have to... well, shovel a lot of poo.

And no one likes to shovel poo.  I guess there could be a few people out there whose job it is to shovel poo around and they wake up each morning thinking... "Hooray! I get to shovel poo!".... but on the whole, none of us like that job.  It becomes exceedingly easy to complain about the smell, the grossness, the very baseness of the whole thing.

I can look at the pile of essays on my desk, the inbox a mile long, the calendar overflowing with IEP or 504 meetings during my prep time, and various and sundry required trainings and think, "How can I possibly get this all done and still have a life?"  I can fold my arms, stick out my bottom lip, and cry.  (And, to be honest, I sometimes I do...I don't claim to be Little Mary Sunshine all the time.)  OR I can take a deep breath and plunge in to all the muck with the hope that all this muck is just covering up the very real possibility that I will find a pony (metaphorically).

The pony we find in that educational muck might be the student who changes his attitude from apathetic to interested because he finally has a plan for his future after doing that research project.  Or we might find the pony in the girl who was so standoffish and rude but who has since become one of the sweetest girls in your class because you took that extra time to find out what was up with her and helped her through it.  It may take a lot of digging through poo to find, but if we're willing to put on our boots (sometimes hip-waders) and grab our shovels, we will find that all that hard, stinky, back-breaking work was worth it.

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