Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring Reflections and a Fast Food Experience

     I have spent the last 2 weeks thinking to myself, "OK, you wanted to blog again, so what do you have to share that is actually interesting?"  Thoughts have run the gambit from sharing a spring lesson or creating a new organizer for my account at to reposting a favorite blog post from a few years ago...then it hit me what I should write while spending over an hour waiting for food at a fast (umm...cough.cough) food restaurant.  Perhaps I should go back as and paint a bit of a picture about that evening.
     Imagine having an actual evening off: no meetings, no papers to grade, house clean, laundry done.  No, I can't imagine that either, but I was choosing that evening to ignore all of those things that needed to be completed.  The husband was at an umpiring training, so the kiddo and I decided to do a little grocery shopping and go to dinner.  He and I love sushi, so I was picturing a fun evening of paying money for a restaurant to plate food that they didn't cook. Instead, someone decided he "weally weally" wanted a cheese burger from a restaurant that rhymes with Phonic. 
    Thus  began our dinner adventure.  We tried 3 different parking stalls before we actually made contact with a human from behind the red button.  During the hour wait for food, we played the game of counting how many cars gave up and left before us. (For those that are holding their breathe waiting to know what that number was: 24. Yes, 24 cars gave up before us.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!)  I spent much of the time trying to convince the kid to go somewhere else and he spent much of the time convincing me that the wait was worth it.  In honesty, it was nice to just sit and visit with him.  My reflecting on the whole issue, and how it has anything to do with education...I promise there is a connection, came towards the end. 
     At one point the manager came on the speaker and was very panicked.  He was sharing that he is a good manager, and it was their technology that let them down that night. Always willing to be helpful (or bossy) my child was shouting at me to tell him to breath in and count to 10.  (Now just to convince that same kid to do it when HE is having a meltdown.) When the manager finally stopped, I convinced him that we were still waiting and looking forward to dinner.  Food finally arrived and lucky wasn't even what we ordered.  (If you were the one who ordered the corn-dog, I'm sorry, but finders keepers...) Taking a deep breathe myself, we took the food and ate at home. 
     It seems to me that we, as educators, could learn a lot from the struggles of this restaurant manager.  . 
     1.)  Just like this manager, we are also in a customer service career.  Instead of quality fries and a soda, we are trying our hardest to provide a quality education.  We are trying to grow leaders and life-long learners.  We are trying to light the passion of education in an atmosphere of testing and politics.  Now, I truly believe that this manager was trying his best, but problems defeated his goal that day.  I also truly believe that we have stumbling blocks each day,  but as teachers, we do not have the right to let our goals be defeated by outside circumstance. That is where being a flexible teacher can turn any moment into a successful learning time.  Any teacher worth their salt has a Plan B,C, D, and E in the back of their mind.  (This is where I want to shout out a thanks that I don not have to write out all of those extra lesson plans though...yikes!!) I think I have just stumbled upon a new blog topic for later.  I'd love to hear from everyone how they adapt to those road-bumps in the daily education road.
    2.) As L and I were sitting in the parking lot, I could see the staff working really hard to rectify the issues. I also know that there was a lot of behind the scenes work happening. It is what makes this restaurant usually work.  Placing this in the education setting, I know that we work really hard to constantly adapt and grow and learn as a staff.  I've seen and watched my amazing co-workers work 20 plus extra hours each week, taking professional development because we want to-not have to, and I know we are always reflecting on how to improve.  My question though is if others see that?  Just as customers sometimes just see "distracted waitor" or "they forgot the straw", what do parents and outsiders see the school system doing for their child (or for their tax monies.) Are we showing them how much we care and are striving for excellence in the classroom, but also for each individual student? 
     3.) By the end of the year, we all start reflecting on what goals we met, and what we want to work on the next year.  This reminds me of our order at the restaurant.  We ordered 2 burgers, 2 shakes, and some tater-tots to share.  We ended up with 1 burger, 1 corn-dog, 2 different shakes, and some french fries.  I'll tell you what, that corn-dog was good.  I don't think I've ever had a year where all of my goals came out exactly, but sometimes those "orders" that don't go as pictured can end up being some of the best learning.  I have to say, that I love spring time reflections.  I love seeing how far my classroom kiddos have come, and each year of experience that I gain, I realize it is OK to acknowledge the things that need improvement.  In fact, once this post is finished, I will be starting my reflection process for the end of this year and the start of next. By that, I mean I will be pinning ideas on Pinterest and not doing laundry.  :D
      Not sure that this post went where I had planned, but I guess that was the underlying theme of the post.  So no matter if you ordered a cheeseburger or a corn-dog, I hope your week in the classroom meets the goals you are striving towards. 

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