Last Friday I was walking into school early in the morning, and I was feeling tired. I muttered to myself, “All right, buddy — gotta do it. One more day this week.” And then I caught how it sounded, and I said, “Wait — GET TO, not got to! GET TO, baby!”
It was so cheesy (and so ridiculous that I was talking to myself as I walked into school) that I softly chuckled. But for whatever reason — the internal self-deprecation, the absurdity of muttering motivational bumper stickers to yourself while you walk into your workplace, a genuine mental shift from got to to get to — the moment helped. I felt a pep in my step. I came into my classroom and got right to work.
And sitting here now, on the morning of our first day of school, I find myself thinking that there really is a lot to this cheesier notion of get to.
- Not one of us teaches on pain of death. Like I wrote last spring, we could do something else besides teaching. All of us could. Our degree of agency varies by the person, but the reality of a teacher's agency is universal.
- No one has ever taught the group(s) of students you get to teach this year. Even if you taught the same exact group of people last year — they're different this year. There's never been a combination of people exactly like the one you have on your roster. Zoom in enough, and what you're doing is a first in history. It won't make it into any history books, sure — but who cares? It's historic nonetheless.
- Everest is calling. The mastery you're after helping students achieve this year — in computers, in calculus, in decoding a text, in describing an experiment, in running the mile, in reading primary sources — is the kind of thing that can enrich the lives of every one of your students. No one's worse off for having better understood mathematics or science or health. You're offering one of the fundamental good things: an education.
I said some time ago that the closer we get to partnering with reality in our classrooms, the less stressed out we'll be. That's the goal of clear thinking: partnership with reality.
And the reality that I'm reflecting on this morning is, “I get to teach this year. I get to work in a school.”
Get to, not got to, baby 🙂
Tom Jaggard says
I get to play with middle school students every day … and they pay me for doing it!!!
Tom Windelinckx says
Thanks, Dave! More people need to hear about this.
“Have to …” –> “Get to …” really works for me.
“I have to get up early for a staff meeting.” turns into “I get to meet with kind, curious, and knowledgeable people to talk about our vocation.”
Here’s Dan Pink relating the same concept to exercise:
(I can often apply little bits of the PinkCast to my life and classroom.)