Roxanna Elden is a great speaker. The message that she sends forth in this video is stellar. I have not read her book as of yet but I intend to. She is 100% correct when she says that all teachers need honesty, humor, and practical advice. The only problem I see is that a lot of leaders forget that teachers need this and that they view us as lazy if we are not getting 3 hours of sleep a night in order to create that amazing lesson plan. We are human. Nobody works with teenagers on 3 hours of sleep. Did you before becoming an administrator?
Here is a touching story that is good for everyone to remember:
The Mayonnaise Jar
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” he said.
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are
important to you…” he told them.
“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.
The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”
Many administrators have forgotten this over the years of not being in the classroom. They have forgotten this story for their teachers, but they have not forgotten this for themselves. Most want us to fill the jar with the sand first and they call us lazy when we don’t. We are all people, not robots. It is important to remember that we all have lives outside of those walls, including students, and sometimes situations take place that impacts what goes on in those walls.
This year our superintendent in his opening address wanted to work with various positions around the district as a way to stay connected on what we do day in and day out with children. This was a huge inspiration for me as a teacher. Here is someone who quite frankly has a very busy schedule and wants to come in and work with teachers, secretaries, custodians, and bus drivers for a day to get a sense of the “trenches”. This is a leader. Not many superintendents would be able to invest, not sacrifice, the much needed time in order to do get the first-hand view of the classroom after so many years being out.
In my talks that I have had with many people I have worked with over the years, many of stressed upon me that whenever I do step into that position of the administration, to not lose sight of what it is like in the classroom. My intention is to always keep that very close to my heart. The true battleground is the classroom, not the office.