During a workshop a few years ago, it was shared that we, as educators, need to work smarter, not harder. I took this phrase to heart, because I always felt I was working so hard, spinning my wheels, and it was time for me to get smarter about the work I was doing with my students.
Flash forward to today, with reflection after reading Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, his passion for teaching seeping through every page, and I’m beginning to think this phrase does not hold true for me. It sounds great, but the reality is, educators are working smarter and harder than ever before. We are doing both, simultaneously, because as Burgess says, “This is a tough business…” We are aiming for this magic bullet that will make everything easier, but in reality, there are no easy ways to reach all kids so that they can be successful. It is hard work, persistent work, but work that is so rewarding in the end. It takes smart work, building upon various strategies, techniques, and using multiple tools in order to help those students be successful. It is not one more than the other. We are all working smarter and harder for our kids to be successful.
From an educator’s perspective, this is time and not pay. Teachers did not get into this profession for the pay. If they did, they chose the wrong career. There is time to develop plans, to create the learning activities, to attend professional development to better themselves, to meet with team members to solve the issues of the day. Time to collaborate with colleagues on the data results and manipulate the curriculum so that skills can be addressed again. It is challenge daily. It is more than 180 days a year and more than 8 hours a day. For the enthusiastic educator, time is worth it. Their student’s success is payment enough.
To passionate educators, our smarter and harder living is the ultimate reward. It is uplifting to watch a child figure out the sounds of a word and light up when they read it for the first time correctly. Or when a child figures out how to manipulate the problem to find the answer. Or when a student who often struggled walks across the stage to receive his diploma. These are the moments we live for. These are the moments that all the smart and hard work pays off. We do this for our students, not for us. I am not in this field for the time on the clock or any kind of awards or compliments. Our students' success is our WHY we do what we do....