Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stop and Tie the Shoelaces

To all you martians that weren't previously aware, today was the first day of school for Greenville County teachers and students.

I have to say that my first day back was truly exceptional. A red letter day. Not only are my 24 students sweet and smart, they are kind and cooperative and smiley. I know some of y'all are going to say "Oh...that's just the'll wear off..." And to that I say, "Hate on, haters! We're groovin!"

Anyway, this morning I was flying down the hallway downstairs to make a few copies before the day started. It was eeeeearly - probably 7:15.

I see a pitiful looking little boy shuffling down the hallway towards the gym to wait for the bell to ring at 7:45. He's sniffling and looking at the floor. His brand new black Nikes still have the little plastic thing that holds the tag. The laces are long and untied.

In my head I had a debate. It sounded like this:
Sweet Side: "Check in with this poor little guy. Find out what's going on."
Selfish Side: "You don't have time for this! You've got 374,243,999 things to do in the next 20 minutes!"
Sweet Side: "But he's so pitiful. And little. And he's gonna trip on those shoelaces."
Selfish Side: "Okay fine - but if you're not ready for the day, don't say I didn't tell ya so."

Clearly, Sweet Side wins.

I come to a screeeeching halt and bend down. "Hey bud, you might want to tie those cool new kicks," I said cheerfully.

"Yeah," he mumbles. He leans down and just tucks the laces down into the sides of his Nikes. Two steps later they are back on the floor, trailing behind him.

I ask if I can help him tie his shoes and he nods. I get down to help and ask him his name. He tells me, but is still looking at the ground.

"What grade are you in?" I ask.


"Who's your teacher this year?"

"I don't know," he says quietly. This time he looks me in the eyes. They were dark brown and kind of heavy looking. Sad.

"You don't know?!" I say with surprise. "Were you not here last night for meet the teacher?"


Ahhhh. That was why he was sniffling. He was freaking out! He didn't know who his teacher was or who his classroom was on the very first day of school!

We take off down the hall, find the teacher list, and I walk him to his classroom to meet his teacher before school started. I make sure to finish it up with a nice big pep talk about how he's going to rock out the second grade and take off to the copier like a bandit on the lam.

I tell this story not to brag about my Sweet Side winning out - because it convicted me in a huge way. I realized my Selfish Side wins out a whole lot more often than it should.

I realized how many of these opportunities I miss because I think I'm too busy.

I think I don't have time to stop.

And I miss out on reaching someone that may really need me.

For me, teaching is all about reaching kids and helping them become the very best version of themselves. How am I ever going to do that if I take my eyes away from them for one split second?

Teacher friends, my challenge to you this year is to keep your eyes on the kids. Between the morning duty, the behavior management plans, the long range plans, the daily plans, the faculty meetings, the professional development meetings, the team planning meetings, the IEP meetings, the conferences (I can stop now right?!) - it's almost impossible not to lose focus at times.

But our job is more than a paperwork shuffler. It's a calling. Let's do what we do best - let's focus on taking care of our kids.

Now I know:
You're never too busy to stop and tie some shoelaces.


  1. You are truly an inspiration. I hope your message is heard by the other teachers. Good luck this year!

  2. Love it and you! You were made to be a teacher girlie.

  3. Jill this is so good. Love you.

  4. I just copied/pasted this into an email to my parents! They are both high school teachers, so I'm pretty sure their students know how to tie their shoes (I hope!!), but still a good reminder of why you are there and what you should focus on. Awesome post, almost makes me wish I were a teacher... ALMOST! :-)

  5. This is a great slice. And a nice reminder to really look at our students instead of running off to do the million things we think are more important. Really, I didn't get into teaching to make copies....
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. A beautiful reminder, at the very least! Heartwarming and inspiring, and if you don't mind, I would love to pass it along! :) Thanks for sharing...

  7. I too will pass this on. Great story for all of us at the beginning of the year. I'm so happy you stopped & tied those laces. You've made a friend for life! (Do we all know too much about copiers?)

  8. @Deb - thank you so much for reading!

    @jen b - of course you can pass it along! thanks for reading!!

    @teacherdance - i definitely made a friend for life. need to go check on my buddy tomorrow, in fact. hope your wednesday is wonderful!

  9. okay so maybe you have a southern accent and maybe you don't but I really love hearing this story in my head with a southern accent. you go girl, shoelaces of the world - drag on!

  10. Love it! So very true. Stopping to tie the laces will always leave you feeling better -- even if you don't get to all those other things. Beautifully written!

  11. Wonderful post! The narrative was great in itself and then I loved your reflection at the end! I too feel like it's so easy to let all those other pieces of our job crowd out the post important ones. Like you, I will try to take advantage of more of those little moments this year!

  12. A great story and a wonderful message. I think it is so easy to get so caught up in being busy. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. I love that you shared about your sweet side... not for bragging purposes but to remind us all that we should let our sweet sides, not our selfish sides, guide us.