The 6 Most Important Things I Learned This Year

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Before we get started, I just want to make it clear that I have no idea what's going on with the above image I created myself. Is it outer space? Bokeh? Up-close Christmas tree? Who knows. One thing you will not see on the following list is "how to choose images for blog posts."

But here are six important things I did learn.

1. I learned to rethink charity. I watch a lot of TED talks (typically after I binge watch some trash TV as a way to absolve myself), and this was definitely the one that stuck in my brain most this year. It changed the way I think about charity, giving, creativity, and even many aspects of my own job. If nothing else, you will never think of overhead costs in charities the same way again.

2. I learned about loan forgiveness for teachers. If you’re a public school teacher and have graduate or undergraduate loans and don’t know about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, educate yourself! Depending on what and where you teach, you can get quite a bit of money forgiven. I got around $9,000 shaved off my grad school loans, and I think that’s one of the smaller amounts. Also, I had heard that you can’t get both the Teacher Forgiveness Loan and the Public Service Forgiveness loan, but it turns out you can, just not at the same time. It’s all very confusing and the applications are an eye-roller, but it's all definitely worth the time and effort.

3.  I learned that Carrie Fisher said this. 

4. I learned that I have so much more room to be kind. I think if I’m honest with myself in the past few years I have begun to feel a little arrogant about my ability to be kind. As a teacher, I have a soft spot for the kids whom others would find unlikeable or challenging, and can, for the most part, handle defiance and personal insults from teenagers with what is for me an all-time high level of patience and gentleness. This has even carried over to the way I deal with certain adults who annoy or insult me personally. (P.S. If you want to get some practice having patience for adults who hate you, just start a blog or online platform where you share opinions.)

But what I’ve discovered in 2016 is that I don’t have nearly the same kindness and patience for a very specific sliver of humanity: adult bullies. This year, both online and in person, when I’ve heard or read about adults who proudly silence the voices of those who already struggle to have their voices heard, I lose my actual mind. All patience and gentleness disappear like a cloud of Febreze, and my immediate reaction is to want to say whatever I can to make the bullies feel small and stupid, which, news alert, is also bullying. I know what righteous anger is, and I respect the people who can channel their righteous anger into action, but I can assure you my anger towards adult bullies is not righteous and is very much a “I would simply like to crush you now” kind of anger. Perhaps the closest to kindness I get with them is not responding at all.

So although I haven’t learned how to practice real kindness with adult bullies, what I’ve at least done is recognize that I have a huge deficit in that area. I need to remember that I’m not a truly kind person if I’m only kind to the people I think deserve it.

5. I learned to make the best holiday sangria. For years I’ve been making sangria for my family for Christmas. Using a combination of online recipes, I've tweaked my sangria based on what sounded good or what didn't work the last time, and this year, I did it. I perfected the recipe. It’s not too sweet, not too red-winey, and with just enough cinnamon and winter fruits. You’re welcome.

1 bottle red wine
2 c. cranberry juice
1 c. apple brandy
2 c. ginger beer (ginger ale is fine but I find ginger beer to be more gingery)
1 orange, sliced
1 pear, sliced
Arils from 1 pomegranate
1 c. fresh cranberries
3-4 whole cinnamon sticks

Directions: Combine all ingredients except ginger beer in a large pitcher the night before you plan to serve it. Add ginger beer just before serving so as not to lose bubbles. Drink. Spit whole cranberries from your glass at your older brothers when they least expect it and laugh maniacally.

6. I learned that “fake it ‘til you make it” is extremely real. After I wrote my last post, which detailed how negative I’d become this fall, I was determined to change my attitude at school. I can’t remember if it was the very next school day or several days later, but at some point I saw a student full-out sprinting in the hall, so fast that his hair flew madly behind his ears.  It wasn’t even a passing period between classes—this kid was just unapologetically booking it down the hallway. My immediate reaction, as it had been lately, was to be grumpy—to stop the student angrily and say something shame-y about rules and his age and how he should obviously know better. But instead I challenged myself. I dare you to deal with this running fool with as much positivity as humanly possible.
“Hey!” I shouted. He kept running. “HEY!”
 He turned and rolled his eyes, knowing he’d been caught. I thought briefly about what to say to him, and decided on a plan of action. I began walking toward him frantically.
“How much time do we have?” I asked.
“I said, how much time do we have? Before they get here?”
He scrunched up his face, utterly confused.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well you’re obviously running from a zombie attack,” I said. “There’d be no other reason to run that fast in a middle school hallway, right?”
“Oh,” he grinned sheepishly. Then, seeing that I was waiting, he continued. “Yeah. They’re, uh, like ten minutes away?”
“Thanks,” I said, winking. “I’ll get my crossbow from my car.”*

Showing grace to the child who was way too old to be sprinting down the hallway did a weird thing to me. It made me furiously happy, as Jenny Lawson would say. I was practically giddy walking back to my classroom, as if I’d discovered something awesome like a bag of peanut butter M&Ms in my coat pocket or that it was Thursday instead of Wednesday. It made me want to do more gracious things, to challenge myself not just to be positive but to be as kind as possible in other situations that would have normally driven me bonkers.

So I did.
Don't get me wrong, I still had my grumpy moments between Thanksgiving and Christmas break, but for the most part, those two weeks were drastically different from before. Making a conscious choice to be kind and positive was a game-changer, along with the other things I decided to do from my list.

(By the way, I’m aware that “fake it ‘til you make it” won’t work in all circumstances in teaching or in life, especially when your professional situation is burning you out. I’ve been there. It’s brutal.)

That’s the end of my list. If numbers 4 and 6 make you think that I’m anywhere close to a model citizen, just email me and I’ll give you a list of some of the things I’ve thought, said, and done this semester and you’ll take it back immediately.

Let’s all be kinder to each other and ourselves in 2017, even if we catch each other sprinting in the hallways (which still makes zero sense to me).



*I do not keep a crossbow in my car.**

**I do not have a crossbow.


  1. Thanks Teach. Have a great year and hold onto your voice. We're all gonna need a strong voice.

  2. I love reading what you share/occasionally ramble about in your blog! I will think about being kinder this year. I always "think" about it......but I get such fast results when I am grumpy. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thank you sharing your thoughts. I stumbled across your blog about two years ago and LOVE reading your posts. I always giggle at your humour. I am definitely going to try #6 for kidlets running in the hallway. Though I might have to edit it slightly, I might totally confuse the kinders!!! Thank you for being awesome!

  6. Thank you for always being so real with us. The beginning of the school year was extremely rough on me and our academic coach has been anything but helpful for me. She has a way of being extremely disrespectful towards me while playing it off as she's just "joking". Your encouragement keeps me going. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel like we are on similar pathways on this teaching journey.

  7. This was exactly what I needed to read today, as I am about to return to school tomorrow. I am going to run with #6 (see what I did there?!)! Thank you so much for posting this.

  8. Laughed out loud! True story! So great!

  9. Hello Loveteach, I found your blog today and have been reading through your post and so much of your writing really hits home with me. I started teaching in January of 2016 (mid-year) and am just not finishing my 1st year, standardized testing is next week, OH JOY! This is a career transition for me, I come from a sales and marketing background, and it certainly has been very challenging. I am teaching History at a title 1 school in North Carolina and I have been questioning my career transition choice after such a hard year...and ran across your blog. I am hoping the next year is much better! I have learned a lot and reading through your blog just cements many of the thoughts and reflections that I have.

    Thank you for your thoughts, they are affirming and the information is also helpful as I reflect on how I can improve the next semester.


    Mr. Freeze

  10. Thanks for being such a wonderful "mentor text" over the years. I'm finally feeling a bit ready to branch out on my own!

  11. wow very nice...

  12. My case is different for i know what Doctor Ehimen did for me this 2017. I was heart broken by my husband because i discovered that he has been cheating on me with his mistress and he filled a divorce on me December last year and i was confused on what to do. I searched for help around from spiritual helpers but all was to no avail not until i was referred to Doctor Ehimen by a co-worker who told me that he can help me out on my situation. I contacted him and explained what am passing through and he said to me that my case is different that if others are complaining about their marriages that mine will be different because i will keep on rejoicing about my marriage as far i have made contact with him. I did all what he told me to do and my husband came back to me within 12 to 16 hours and we are living in peace and harmony again. Viewers reading this article can E-mail him at ( ) for more info.

  13. Thank you for sharing such an amazing and informative post. Really enjoyed reading it. :)nice articles...Please read more.... xnxx

  14. I was lost with no hope for my husband was cheating and had always got away with it because i did not know how or always too scared to pin anything on him. with the help a friend who recommended me to Cyberpros who help hack his phone,all his social applications, email, chat, sms and expose him for a cheater he is. I just want to say a big thank you to you need help with hacking any phone or account or other jobs contact him via email/phone (CYBERHACKPROS@GMAIL.COM) or +1 916 378 4978 Tell him i reffered you.He will help you..

  15. Excellent and professional investigative services. I hired him (CYBERPHONEHACKER@GMAIL.COM (mailto:CYBERPHONEHACKER@GMAIL.COM)) for a very private and difficult matter of hacking my spouse phone, and he far exceeded my expectations. He helped me get the info(whatsapp, facebook, text messages, call logs etc) I needed faster and cheaper than I had imagined. The first time we spoke, we had a very long phone consultation in which he gave me all my options that he could think of to resolve my case, and he even recommended I try other options before hiring him, which shows that he is honest. I decided to hire him and I am glad I did. He is a fantastic investigator and a great person and
    if you have a dishonest partner don’t hesitate to send him a mail Contact: CYBERPHONEHACKER@GMAIL.COM or +1 916 302 2234

  16. I've come across different posts online about people been duped by fake hackers and it really hurts me to see people loose their
    hard earned money to some low life that calls themselves professional hackers when they are not.
    i've been a victim before and i know how it feels.
    Thats why i'm here to save you all from getting scammed by this fake hackers again.
    Since i met,
    i have made him my personal hacker and
    i've been using him for upto a year now and i've never been displeased with his job because
    he attains a clean job with no traces to keep both himself and his clients on a safer side.
    He is legit, tested and trusted.
    Give him a try and i promise you wont be disappointed. God bless!


Your comment might take awhile to post, but should be up soon! Thanks for your feedback :) L, T