I’m three weeks away from completing 11 years at my current school. Thirteen years of teaching overall. The very definition of “mid-career”.

And I’ve been spending some time pondering the journey. The changes I see around me, and in myself. Every year, at our first faculty meeting (the day before we welcome students), I do a quick head count of teachers who were in the room that year I started at Gavit. This year the number was 23, out of about 100 I started with. Many of those positions have turned over multiple times. The folks that are left? It’s a really good core group of dedicated teachers.

As folks celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, I think about one of the changes I’m most pleased with. That thing about the toxic teacher lounge? It’s true.

Many years ago, when I was still struggling to figure out a lot of things, and had a much shorter fuse, I ate lunch in my classroom every day. For like two years straight. My students classes were making me miserable, and I needed answers, not a bitch-fest.

One year, I made an intentional decision. I stopped being an anti-social jerk. I committed to eating with my Freshman Academy teammates, in the lunch room, every day.

Good call.

The faces have changed, but my lunch table crew is the highlight of my day, every day. Most of the ladies I share 25 minutes of stories, smiles, and an occasional bite of food with are members of our PBIS Committee. But really, they are Just Good People.

Our administration is working on building a culture of positivity in the building. We’ve got 100% buy-in around my lunch table. It means a lot. We’re not Pollyanna-ish about it though. To work in our building, you gotta have sharp elbows and a tough shell. A penchant for dark humor doesn’t hurt either.

A few years ago I was assigned my first hard-core repeat class mid-year. I’d always had classes for math-challenged students, but this group took the concept to a whole different level.

I shared my tale of woe around the lunch table. After seeing my roster, they knew. They shook their heads in a quiet show of sympathy, and solidarity. Then: One of our social studies teachers deadpanned, “Did you buy beer?”

Those are the teachers I appreciate.

Author: thedullguy

High School Math/PLTW teacher, Valparaiso High School, Valparaiso, IN. Opinions mine.

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