Ever since I was a kid, I loved making people happy. Mostly by giving them stuff or just talking to them. I talked to everyone when I was a kid. I also spent most of my allowance on things for other people, rather than myself. When on vacation, I used my money to buy souvenirs for others. Whenever I did anything crafty, it was usually to give away to a friend or family member. So what is my why? To make others happy? Pretty much. But it’s more than that. I don’t want to just hand someone a present and see them smile for a few seconds. I want to show someone the path they can take to overcome their demons and get to true, lasting happiness. I’ll even hold their hand while they do it, so they know they have someone supporting and rooting for them. I want to empower people to make that hard change that might be painful at first, but leads to life-long joy. I want to inspire people to take the leap and show them or equip them with everything they need to do it. And yes, if giving a homemade blanket to someone who is cold makes their life a little easier, even if it doesn’t help them achieve lasting happiness, I want to do that too. I want everyone to know that there are people like me who care. I want them to know that they’re not alone. That is my why. What is yours?
Everyone has a cause they care about and pursue. Everyone has a reason for at least some of their actions, purchases, and social media posts. If you don’t, I imagine you have a hard time getting out of bed. But even then, I know there’s something you care about, even if you’re not actively promoting it.
I care about helping others. If a clothing store tells me that their reason for being is to help others, and they do that in the way they obtain materials and provide training, jobs, and education to their local community members, I will buy their clothes even if they are typically out of my price range. Or pink. Or not exactly my style. I’ll buy them for someone else if it means I get to help a cause I believe in.
Likewise, if you care about animals, and a shoe store says that their company was started so the profits could be used to help local animal shelters, you’ll want to buy those shoes. We like to promote our causes by supporting companies that also believe in our causes.
It’s even better when you can get into a career that furthers your cause. My cause is helping others. I tried to do that with engineering. I wanted to innovate and use new designs and technology to make products that would really benefit the community. But that didn’t seem like it was going to happen. When I switched to teaching, it was like sliding a puzzle piece into place. I got to help others in a way that I did not imagine I wanted to. There were lots of reasons I didn’t want to be a teacher and only one reason that I did. My one reason for wanting to be a teacher was to further my cause.
What’s your cause? How do you pursue it?
I don’t know about you, but when I get sick I sleep. A lot. And while I’m awake, I rarely feel like doing more than watch TV. I’ll wish for a rainy day, so I don’t feel bad about sleeping in until noon and lounging on the couch the rest of the day watching tv and sleeping, but it’s always bright and sunny when I’m sick.
I don’t think I’m unique in that I like to be productive. Most of us do. That’s why most of the addictive games have “goals,” “achievements,” or “tasks” for us to do – which is what makes them so addictive to us. It feels like we are accomplishing something and being productive (at least in the game). We love that feeling. But it’s hard to get that feeling when you’re sick and have no energy to be productive. Not even to play the games that give you that feeling.
Needless to say, I’ve been sick. Today is my first productive day in what feels like a week but has really just been 3 days (2.5 really, I was a little productive yesterday afternoon). Fortunately, I have a partner that reminded me that it’s okay to take a break now and then, especially when sick. He reminded me that we had a long, productive, and tiring month with the kids (it was the day after we took them back to their mom that I got sick) and that we both deserved some rest anyway. We took all day Monday to sleep in and watch NCIS (he took the day off work), even though we were quickly running out of clean socks and there were more dirty dishes than clean ones in the kitchen.
Tuesday I was going to get back on it. I didn’t. I slept til noon and every time I tried to do a thing, I felt dizzy and weak and had to lie down. So I watched TV all day and snoozed a little in the afternoon. It really got me down. I felt like I needed to be productive. I felt like a lazy piece of poop because none of the dishes had gotten washed, none of the mess in the kids’ room or living room had gotten picked up, and I hadn’t had the mental capacity to even work on my classroom stuff.
It got me down and made it hard for me to feel motivated to be productive in the future. But finally his words got through to me. It is okay to take a break and take it easy occasionally. It’s okay to watch cartoons and NCIS all day after sleeping in until noon and go to bed at eight. It’s okay to be sick and just relax. It’s okay because that’s not who I am and I’m not going to do it every day. Only as long as I need it.
If you’re sick and feeling useless because dishes aren’t getting done, your hobbies aren’t progressing, and you’re ordering pizza instead of cooking, just remember that it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to be sick. It’s okay to relax and enjoy doing nothing for a few days. You’ll get back on your feet and when you do it will be with renewed vigor. You are a badass. Don’t ever forget it.
The other day I was late with breakfast, we forgot socks to the bounce house and had to buy some, I ran my just-purchased car into a parked vehicle in the parking lot, and the oven got left on 425 degrees for 5 hours. It seemed like a lot of other little things happened too that wouldn’t have normally bothered me, but just added to the bad day vibe. The worst one was the car. I just bought this car and I did way more damage to my car than the vehicle I hit. Of course my insurance covered their’s and not mine. Why am I paying so much for insurance? I cried – a lot. I felt so stupid. And continued to feel so with every little mistake I made the rest of the day.
That evening, I finally took a deep breath. I realized that in the grand scheme of things, eating breakfast late, paying a few bucks for socks, dinging a new car, and leaving the oven on for 5 hours really isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not going to affect anything in the long run. Yes, our electric bill will be a little higher for one month. And yes, I will have to take money out of my emergency fund to fix my car. But neither of those things are going to affect my future. Neither of them are going to cause long-term pain or affect my long-term happiness. They don’t influence my job, my relationships, my family, or my life.
It’s easy to let small things like these affect our mood and stop us from being happy in the short-term. We have to remember to look at the big picture and realize that they aren’t part of it. They don’t show up in the big picture and they don’t mess up the future. Therefore, there’s no point in letting them ruin so much a day of your life if they’re not going to majorly influence the future. No use wasting time being upset when time could be spent feeling happy and having fun or being productive instead of moping around.
What happened the last time you had an off day? Were you able to turn it around? If so, how?
I’m currently reading about student motivation and how one of the things I should do is figure out what is “real” to them. What their reality looks like. I know many of my students last year had a part-time job because they either had to buy their own clothes and gas or they had to help pay the bills at home. I remember thinking that I couldn’t force them to learn something as pointless as chemistry when they had real-life problems to worry about. This is why it’s so important to me to teach things that matter. Teach skills that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I think chemistry and algebra and the other subjects are important, just not as important as helping provide for yourself or your family – especially when you’re planning a career as a mechanic or accountant or something that has nothing to do with chemistry.
I need for the things they learn to be relevant so that I have the motivation to teach it just as they have the motivation to learn it. That’s one of the reasons I’m so interested in project-based learning. And why I was so interested in the education chapter in the “Abundance” book discussing the fundamental things students need to learn to be successful. I want to feel like I am teaching my students skills that will stay with them, not facts that they will soon forget. I hate wasting time – mine or others’. I very much teaching concepts for the sake of teaching concepts. Students need to know how to apply what they learn in creative ways to solve problems.
While I do have academic standards that I have to teach, they can be a result of teaching more important skills. I can use PBL’s and similar type lessons to teacher collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. Due to the nature of the projects, they will also learn specific chemistry concepts along the way. Since they learned these concepts as part of a bigger picture project, they should also be able to remember the concepts longer. The projects will also help with self-confidence, speaking in front of others, reading and writing, and research skills.
My ideal class would be me teaching every concept with a PBL, but I don’t see that as reality. Especially teaching two subjects in only my second year. I haven’t even honed my classroom management plan. But maybe. The reward would be great and surely I have the ability and resources to do this. At least with chemistry since I’m more familiar with the subject (it’s the only class I taught last year). And I have two great teachers on my chemistry team and two great math teachers on my algebra team. So maybe I can pull it off. I’m actually a bit doubtful, but I know that if I push on and pretend that I know I can do it, I’ll be a lot better off and have a better shot of doing it.
Either way, I have to make one by the end of the week. I’m in PBL training and that’s the end goal. I’ll go more into that later. This was supposed to be a short thoughts post. Oops.
What non-academic skills were you taught, or do you wish you were taught, in high school?
Teachers, do you ever feel unmotivated to teach your content because you feel it’s not important? What skills, lessons, or content would you be motivated to teach?