Celebrate Good Times.

Prompt: How do you celebrate your work and the work of your colleagues?

Short answer: I don’t.

When it comes to my work, I feel like a terminal failure. I struggle to find much to celebrate. But even if I could find things to celebrate, I’m intrigued by the question “how.”

In order to celebrate my own work, I need a paradigm shift to see my work as something worth celebrating. How does that happen?

Probably another round of therapy.

But seriously, this prompt has been tough to write to, because the forced introspection made me realize that I completely undervalue the work I do. I don’t celebrate my work, because I haven’t trained myself to see anything but the failures: losing my cool with a chatty class, grading quizzes and realizing not a single kid got more than 5 points, sticking to lectures too often.

But as I reflect on this day alone, I can celebrate the following:

  • Every semester I really do get better at teaching graphic design. My instructions become clearer, and my students produce better work.
  • Whole-class revisions of student writing is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my writing class. Today we revised three feature stories, and several students said they felt better, realizing they could meet the standard I had set.

Now, how to make celebrations a regular occurrence? Not quite sure. I tried earlier this year, in a way, with my 180 Days of Happy project…that lasted 90 days. But those weren’t true celebrations or reflections on my teaching.

And celebrating the work of my colleagues? When I’m never in their classrooms, it’s hard to see what they are doing. We don’t always have time or make time to share our work worth celebrating. When we are tasked with looking for ways to implement different strategies to improve test scores, well, I’m pretty sure no one feels like celebrating all that much.

I know celebrating our work is important–today I reminded my journalistic writing class that the work my friends Ann Feldmann, Jeannette Carlson and Jeff Bernadt do with our iPad Academy is groundbreaking work that deserves all the recognition in the world. I reminded my students that they hear way too often, from parents and journalists and yes, even teachers, that public schools are a joke and are broken beyond repair; I reminded them that it’s just not entirely true.

There is great work happening in classrooms all over the country. Work that needs to be celebrated. And the first step in “how” to celebrate our work is to make sure our students know our work is worth celebrating.

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