I was just reading this post on the Responsive Classroom's blog and it got me thinking about one of the parts of the school year at which I continue to fail spectacularly: packing. Oh, man.
I have a close friend and former colleague (are colleagues really "former" if you still talk to them and are inspired by them regularly?) with whom I share many traits. Two of which include:
1. We both have a lot of stuff.
2. We both take a long time decluttering and packing up.
Years ago we both discovered some commonality in the fact that it took us days to pack up our classrooms for the summer, while others seemed to take almost no time at all. (I always used to imagine they had some sort of magic power or secret animal helpers that scurried around and did the packing for them at night when no one was looking) For whatever reason, my friend and I are good teachers, but slow packers. I almost wrote "bad packers" but I believe that's incorrect. We pack in an organized and useful way; it just takes a while.
After a particularly difficult day of packing and stress, one of us went to the other in tears because another well meaning colleague had unintentionally sent us over the edge by saying, "Wow, you still have a lot to do." So the other one (and I'm not being intentionally vague here, I honestly don't remember who said or did what -- just know that this story is highly indicative of our relationship) walked into her classroom, looked around and started pointing out all of the things she could see that already were done.
It was a moment of clarity, a moment to take a breath and realize that, yes, a lot had already been done. It was exactly like the reinforcing language I strive to use with my students on a regular basis.
That was probably more than thirteen years ago, but it started a tradition between the two of us. Every June (even though we no longer teach at the same school or even in the same state), sometime during the last week of school, one of us contacts the other one (via email, text, or phone) and says, "Wow, look at your classroom! You've gotten SO MUCH done; you're nearly finished!" Whether it's true or not, it always puts a smile on my face and gives me that little push to keep going. It reminds me of the reinforcing language from way back then and reminds me to look at everything I already have done and lets me take that deep breath and jump back into what I haven't.
I kind of love it. :)
How about you? What sorts of traditions do you have with other colleagues that pump you up?