I’m willing to bet you’ve been on a diet. I’d also venture that you stumbled somewhere along the way. Sneaking some ice cream late at night, a slice of birthday cake in the teachers lounge, hey, it’s Friday, I EARNED this doughnut! Being on a diet is rough. It’s restrictive and you are literally fighting your biological tendencies to eat as much as you can and move as little as possible. Yet you know, somewhere deep inside, that you should eat more vegetables and fruits and less junk. You know you want to look better on the beach and be able to keep up with your kids. See the thing is, at least for many of us, we grow up without too much concern for how we eat, then BAM, we start gaining weight without realizing it. All of a sudden you are hauling the laundry up the steps and you’re out of breath. Maybe you change, maybe you don’t. Some say it’s easy, you just have to decide you will do it.
If you’ve lost weight and most especially if you have kept that weight off, you very likely have had that moment. That moment when you just KNOW – I am doing this! I am doing this for my spouse, for my kids, for my teammates, for my dog, for my parents, for ME. For me, a huge motivator was reading these lines by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, creaters of the Whole30 eating model:
“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your ‘struggles’.”
Thats great and all. In theory, it’s not hard. But it is hard. Change is hard. Even for the people that make it look easy. The first step is just committing.
Then you fight and scrap and sacrifice with all you have to make sure you get healthy. You go to the birthday party and politely say no thanks to the cake. You get up at the crack of dawn and go for a run… before anybody else in your house is even awake. You spend hours preparing your food for all your lunches so that when everybody is running to the fast food joint for a quick lunch you are prepared. And then it happens. You feel it. Not just the weight loss but the utter joy and energy that have returned. The struggle that was so hard is now a memory and you are living the life you feel you were meant to.
You got through that messy part. That’s where most people stop.
As teachers we need a diet. We need to have a collective moment that we are going to do this. Not for the politicians and their mandates or the testing companies and their profits, but for the children we have devoted our lives to and for our very selves and the dignity of our profession. We need to make a commitment that we are going to fight through the “messy part” over the next decade (yeah, I said decade) as technology continues to become more pervasive and students continue to look less and less like the kids we remember ourselves being. They deserve this. WE deserve this.
It is easier to stand in front of a room and demand cell phones and lecture than it is to have kids on laptops working on different projects at the same time (and no, I don’t mean that teaching is easy in any format…). It is easier to give everybody the same worksheet than it is to give kids a choice in what they want to learn about and to (dare I say it) let them use their cell phone in class. It’s easier to just eat the birthday cake too. Anything worth doing is… look, you get the point right?. You have heard this before. But now is the time. There’s no starting tomorrow any more. We need a collective wake up call. We need to realize that this change is both easy (in the sense that you just have to decide) and a feeling that it is insurmountable because it requires such constant vigilance and support and learning.
Here’s the good part – we are all in it together. You do not have to go it alone. Even if nobody in your school wants to help you (and I doubt that) you have to world of teachers on Twitter, Voxer and Blogs. I’ve met a lot of them. They are awesome and they want to help you. Yes, YOU! So put down that cookie and start tweeting. The kids are coming for you and they’re eager for change.