Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
Photo courtesy of

Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Friday, February 12, 2010

Teaching is a lot like running a marathon....

As many of you already know, aside from my husband and teaching, the other love of my life is running. I have been a runner for as long as I can remember. It has always been the one sure-fire way to relieve stress and have "me time" at the end of a long day in the classroom. In summer 2007, I decided to train for my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, with St. Jude Heroes and raised over $2,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. I ran in honor of one of their  precious patients and wore a bracelet with his name. And let me tell you -- there is no better motivation to get you through your first marathon.

Since I have an addictive personality, I was hooked. Consequently, I have run six more marathons, two endurance relays, countless half marathons and shorter road races, and my first ultramarathon, the John F. Kennedy, Jr. 50 Miler, in the past two years. Now, I am running a marathon a month through May and am also training for my first sprint triathlon in DC this June. Yes, I am smitten with marathoning and endurance competition in a BIG way. Why do I subject myself to such torture, you may ask? As you may have realized, I LOVE personal challenges and activities that push me outside my comfort zone and allow me to achieve what I once thought was only impossible.

At the start line of every marathon, I know I am about to embark on a difficult, unpredictable journey that will test both my physical and mental toughness. Similarly, at the start of each day as a teacher, I know I am embarking on another kind of journey that often tests my mental, interpersonal, and intellectual limits. Teaching is another kind of marathon for me, one where the journey is of far greater importance than the finish line or how long it takes to get there. Both kinds of journeys require endless practice, patience, perseverance, determination, positivity, and above all, the firm belief that yes, I can do this -- and no, I will not give up, no matter what happens or what barriers stand in my way.

My students know all about my passion for running. Many of them are athletes themselves struggling to find similar kinds of success and fulfillment within school walls. I display all of my race bibs on the classroom wall behind my desk and wear my finisher medals to school the day after each marathon or ultra race. Inevitably, students always ask, "Did you win??!!" This naive but adorable comment invites the teachable moment. "It isn't always about winning, you know. Sometimes, just getting to the finish line earns you a medal," I'll tell them. They continue to ask about whether I've won or not, but I hope they also learn a greater life lesson -- that nothing worth doing is ever easy and that nothing worth doing is worth quitting on.

I truly believe it is crucial to open yourself up to your students and reveal to them your inner humanity. Many times, students, especially those in their adolescent years, believe teachers are "ancient" and "uncool" creatures who live in school 24/7.  I aim to eliminate this stereotype by opening myself up to my students and demonstrating to them the importance of finding something that they're passionate about -- and not give up on it. And, of course, it doesn't just have to be sports. I am amazed at the talents that emerge when I introduce creative projects to my students that allow them to imaginatively express themselves through art, film, music, theater, or poetry. When you can help a student find a true passion, the joys and long-term benefits are infinite.

So, my mission to help students run their own race and tap into their true loves continues well beyond the 26.2 miles of each marathon I run. It is their smiles, enthusiasm, and hunger for learning and personal identity that keeps me going each day -- and helps me find greater meaning to reaching every finish line, be it in my classroom or on the road.


  1. Did you say a marathon per month through May?!? Oh dear, please be careful and listen to your body!

  2. i love it kay, and will continue to read! you are a great teacher and a wonderful inspiration to students and colleagues alike! :) btw... did we talk about the nat'l marathon in march yet?? you wanna? :)