Labor Day. Did you know Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday? Did you know it became a federal holiday in 1894? And, today it is still a great holiday! We celebrate working with a day off! Only, I never seem to take the day off. My wife always gives me a long honey-do list, and as a teacher, I spend the day grading papers or preparing lessons for the week. It reminds me of Ohio’s waiver days. Teachers go to meetings to improve their teaching and the district gets to count the day as a school day for kids. I guess after a day of meetings, teachers can learn how to speed up learning to make up for the missed day of instruction. Now, if only I could learn how to speed up completing the honey-do list.
Of course, this labor day I assigned a poem or slide show project using photopeach.com to my classes. I am not cruel; they have two weekends, all week, and class time to complete it. Of course, when I first began teaching, I was cruel. I thought that English class was the most important thing in the student’s lives. Within one month, I remembered that they have sports, music, church, scouting, many other activities, and other classes like history, science, and math that require their attention. I learned to give more class time for reading and writing and count the class work for a higher grade than the homework because I could not control what happened at home.
For example, the best excuse I have ever been given for not having homework was “my Mom took a shot at my Dad. She missed, but while taking care of my little brother I forgot I had homework.” Not exactly “my dog ate my homework.” I had already met Dad in a parent/teacher conference that included another teacher, the guidance counselor, the principal, and eventually a police officer. Needless to say, I believed Robbie* and gave him additional time to complete his work.
No one likes excuses. However, listening and having empathy can help in understanding others. Robbie reminded me that we all have “baggage” or issues we bring to work. It is how we deal the adversity that defines us.