Every Day Is Not Like Today
It was around the year 2002. I was teaching 3rd grade in Arkansas with three good years of experience under my belt. While I can’t vividly recall the events that transpired over the course of that eight-hour day, I remember being utterly exhausted and feeling defeated with the ringing of the 3:00 pm bell.
Had I made the right career choice? Were my students learning…anything? Was I even equipped and capable of leading a room of 25 youngsters who held on to my every statement?
If I had to guess, on this day, there had probably been way too many behavior challenges. Papers needed to be graded. Parents needed to be contacted. And I’m certain, lesson plans were due. Because lesson plans were ALWAYS due.
I gathered up my belongings, the materials I needed to finish my lesson plans, the papers that needed to be graded, and closed my classroom door behind me. Luckily, I was teaching in a school directly adjacent to my backyard so I walked to work each day. With slumped shoulders and a heavy teacher bag in tow, I left for home. And a tear dropped down my cheek.
I dare say that every educator has had a similar experience. A day when everything seemingly goes wrong. A day when you feel grossly inadequate and question the calling that was placed on your heart. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, day. In an ideal world, we teachers want every lesson plan to flow smoothly, every student to behave perfectly, and loads of time to finish all the tasks we are required to complete. And when a perfect storm of events arises, causing us to question our choice of profession, discouragement quickly sets in.
As I left the school building that day, and opened the gate to my backyard, a profound thought entered my mind. Today was a bad day. Everything went wrong. But you know what? EVERY DAY IS NOT LIKE TODAY. And I was instantly reminded of WHY I became an educator.
EVERY DAY IS NOT LIKE TODAY. I thought about that statement more and more over the course of the evening. I reflected back on all the amazing accomplishments I had seen in my short three years of being a teacher. I thought about Brittany and Umeko who had managed to make straight A’s and have perfect attendance the year prior and how our principal allowed us to take a limo ride to anywhere for lunch to celebrate. ANYWHERE! They chose CiCi’s Pizza. And it was honestly the best day of their lives.
I thought about Ginger my instructional technology director who, a few years prior, had pushed and encouraged me to pursue a Master’s degree in educational technology. And how I was effectively applying the skills she taught me to make my instruction engaging and fun.
I remembered all of my initial teacher evaluations both by my mentor teacher and by my principal and how I consistently received rave reviews. My principal even speaking words of truth over me that would change the course of my life. “I see leadership traits in you.” Thus inspiring me to eventually get my administration certificate and later become an assistant principal and also an instructional technology director.
Later than evening, as I sat down to grade papers and complete my lesson plans, my demeanor changed! EVERY DAY IS NOT LIKE TODAY. And tomorrow I would have the opportunity for a complete do over. Why had I not thought of this before? Such a profound, yet simple statement that sticks with me to this day.
Since that “Alexander” moment back in 2002, I cannot count the days as an educator (well, also as an adult really), when those words that entered my head have given me great comfort. EVERY DAY IS NOT LIKE TODAY.
It’s nearly May. Testing is over or almost over. You are exhausted. You are probably counting the days until summer break. You might be wondering how you are going to make it until the end of the school year. But be encouraged. Tomorrow is a new day. You get a do over and a new opportunity to change the life of each student you encounter. You are a superhero in their eyes. They don’t see how tired you are. They didn’t see the tear that dropped down your cheek. They see you pushing through and being the best you can be.
As you leave your classroom today, wondering if you should or even can come back tomorrow, be encouraged. EVERY DAY IS NOT LIKE TODAY. Relish in the times you’ve seen the lightbulb come on. The time your students could have picked The Ritz for lunch and you ended up at a $4.99 pizza buffet. The time you inspired your colleagues with an amazing lesson. The time a parent profusely thanked you for spending extra time with their child making sure they could read.
EVERY DAY IS NOT LIKE TODAY. Onwards towards tomorrow.