I am on the Spirit Committee for my community's HOA here in Brooksville, FL. Part of our job on the Spirit Committee is to plan events around the community. For instance, next Friday we are holding a Back To School Celebration and Chili Cookoff. We have no money for advertising so we are using word of mouth, email and printed out flyers that we are donating to the event. Instead of having one person responsible for RSVP, we are using our wiki to sign-up and tell us what they are bringing. It's great because then we don't end up with a BBQ of all Baked Beans and without any of the paper products. Plus, no one has to be responsible for taking the phone calls.
Lately though I haven't wanted to be apart of the Spirit Committee. There's a lot of nagging and little issues going on. The community wants a newsletter, but we have no budget for one and I'm not going out to sell ads in order for us to have a free one. No one wants their HOA dues increased to give us a fund for the newspaper. So we're stuck in a catch 22. There are other things too, but mainly those who are not involved in the Spirit Committee like to dampen the spirits of those of us who are.
Tonight I spoke to a first year teacher at Wal-Mart. She was buying some school supplies with a graduation gift card and were all excited about the first year of teaching in a neighboring district. Then she stopped, made a sad little face and admitted that some of the other teachers though are dampening her spirits. She explained how she learned how to use a lot of technology in her college courses, knowing that not all schools have access to much, but that she was excited and ready to try some of these fun and creative lessons. I guess her new school not only doesn't have a lot of technology, but they are not into technology. I asked her about that and she gave me a couple of the reasons. One of their reasons? "Why do we want to spend money on technology when it's just going to break or collect dust because no one wants to use it." I asked her if she asked why no one would want to use it and she said that the teachers told her once she met her kids, she'd understand. Her spirits were already starting to sag.
That's a shame.
I know I'm not an official educator anymore since I'm out of the classroom, but my heart is still in education. I'm even working for an educational technology company who's motto is to go do something good for the kids. Anyway, one of my pet peeves though has always been when new teachers come in so excited and so ready for the first day and these veteran teachers instead kill their spirits and make them dread the first day.
I encourage all veteran teachers this year to suggest to these new teachers places like Scholastic's New Teacher Resource Section or to join a community like Inspiration, Discover Educator Network, Yahoo Teachers or some community found on Ning so they can find people to talk to, learn from, and connect with. Introduce them to some great blogs to read so they can continue to learn and grow. Make sure they know which resources they do have available to them (and if they have netTrekker, check out the teacher tools section with the great resources for any teacher -new or old!). Be patient with them as they learn the ropes.And check on them every once in awhile, even if it's to just say hi.
I'm sure that readers of blogs are not the grumpy teachers out there that like to kill the spirit of other teachers, so I don't need to ask you not to kill their spirit. Instead, you can intercept these grumpy kill-joys and spread some grounded happiness.
That's what I decided to do with my personal community. Each time they point out what we're lacking, I'm going to point out how we've adapted. Sure we don't have a newspaper that gets printed 6 times a year. We do have a pretty up to date Wiki that anyone is welcome to edit and add information so it's always current and useful. Sure we don't have a budget for our get togethers but we do get together so we can share culinary treats from our own kitchens to help break the ice.
Sure you don't have a lot of technology and your kids are not always thankful for the hardwork you go through each day, but you know you are doing something good for the kids
and someday they will send a thank you to you- whether just a silent one whispered where no one else hears it or they come back to show you what a success you've made them.
Just don't lose your spirit along the way.
Have a great year as you go do something good for the kids!