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The Core

“To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?”

What kind of teacher are you?

I know, a big question on our summer break! Depending on when school ended for you that little brain engine that could may be muttering, "I think I can, I think I can" as you grapple with the sudden vacuum of space and time. Well organized schedules vanished in blink of a eye and the sound of a bell. Or you may be content to sit in the chaos of not knowing what day it is, when lunch is happening and did you do that thing you were supposed to do?

No matter where you are in the teacher spectrum of summer season, I want to offer something to put in the back of your mind, or on the side of your plate to consider. Every year on this blog I would do a big review of the school year, or the year it self. It was almost like an autopsy on things to see what really happened. Summer School and GED Instruction have taken the first few weeks of summer away, but I'm finding time to recall this year. Reflection is one of the greatest tools we carry with us as we go and I have a hard time imagining that I would have made it to my 6th year of teaching without taking a seat and looking back.

As a part of our work at the alternative education campus (#ALTED, AEC) we're taking part in a two year program based around the concept of Turn Around Leadership. We're entering our second year and as a part of the program we did a retreat this year just as we did last year. Our school is small and the upper limit of students is in the upper 40's so our staff is small - each subject has one teacher. A retreat for our team fits perfectly with our size. We learned a lot and did a lot but one thing stuck with me that I wanted to share and put into words.

Among the arts of painting, music, theatre, musicals - the power and potential for human expression is incredible and humbling. I've made the case over the years that Teaching is a Sacred Art. It requires extensive study, practice, and continued learning. Joining the profession in 2023 is significantly different from 1980, 1990, or even 2000. We have a far better understanding of teaching and its impact within our communities. I'm headed into my sixth year teaching, and there's been lots of lessons along the way...but I'm not done grappling with what this job means, why I do it, and how will I keep doing it?

I return to the quote at the start of this post -

“To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?”

Through that lens, I pose the question that I started with, "What kind of teacher are you?" Think about that for a moment. The common interpretation of this passage in Hamlet is about life and death - what is worth living for? Hamlet's journey is a jarring one, and I wouldn't suggest that teachers are living that life. What I would suggest is we take the question up against what we think of as our Core Values, Mission, and Vision.

I know, a bit heady. Stay with me. When I said teaching is a Sacred Art, I wasn't kidding. The question of to be or not to be in education has been on the hearts and minds of teachers across the country. Teachers are indeed leaving the profession and it wasn't helped with the COVID-19 experience. Endless social media posts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have painted a dire picture of where things stand and sit in the world of teaching. It breaks my heart and gives my soul pause each time I stumble onto another, "I'm Leaving Teaching Because..."

I've had that conversation in my head a few times over the last five years. Each time I come back around to staying in the classroom and doing the work of an educator. This year at our retreat, we were tasked with crafting our own Core Values, Mission, and Vision. In that two hour activity, I came to the realization that the sacredness of this job was woven into my being - I couldn't imagine not using my talents and abilities in any other job.

The Core Values came from three messages we would tell our younger self. We took these messages about memories and distilled them into three words. My three core values were Peace, Independance, and Self Respect.


I learned this from one of my OG's (original group) who were my first ever group I taught. She talked about how having peace in her life, her relationships, her soul, her heart - everything - how important that was for her to remain sane, balanced, and stable. She had to remove herself from the drama, the circles she couldn't trust, and the people who didn't want her to succeed. I reflected on that as I worked through my own memories. Before I earned my Bachelors I worked in places where there wasn't a lot of peace. It was exceedingly stressful in how the pressure was always on and there wasn't much reward for the amount of ruin I was going through. When I went back to school in 2014, I told myself I needed to find peace in the places and the people I associated with in this new journey. It took time, and it took effort, and it took some tough decisions...but I look back at those years today with satisfaction. My peace is my own and mostly within my control.


I was once a people pleaser. I suffered from wanting to be everyone's friend. If you're recovering from the darker side of this life, you know what's coming next - it was exhausting. Worrying about if people liked me, or if they were mad at me...or if I wasn't doing enough to maintain our friendship...I was tired. It was a realization of finding the ones that matter, the ones that return on the investment you make with them, and making that small circle of friends tight. Being free of other people's power is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Self Respect

This connects to the above section. There were times where I would take the fall for something or beat myself up over something I'd messed up to the point of balancing nervously on the edge of depression. I wouldn't respect myself enough to have confidence in myself or forgive myself, or push myself to move on beyond the bygones that would pull me back from the success that was just in arms or fingers reach. I needed to accept that I was a professional and that I knew what I was doing...and that I had value. That my value didn't come from what others (who had nothing to do with my life or profession) said, thought, or did. This, like all the others, is under constant construction. I'm moving forward and science defines life (paraphrased) as something that is moving forward and active. I'll take that.

The next part of my "To Be" is my mission and vision. To this we worked within the scope of what people would say about us mixed in with a few other things to create them. Mine are as follows:

My Mission

The sacred duty of educating, mentoring, cheerleading, and making a difference in the lives of students and the community.

My Vision

A cheerleader who passionately champions student's success, who they become, and what they are capable of at Lincoln and beyond.

I think the Values, MIssion, and Vision accurately answer the question of "What Kind of Teacher are You?" Over the years I've reflected on my view on education, what kind of teacher I am, and my purpose in this world. The truth is that can change over time. I've been teaching for five years, and while that feels like a long's a blink of an eye in most careers. When I'm ten years in I'll probably revised this list a few times...yet I wonder if it'll change all that much from the main idea. Only time will tell.

So the question for you is to be or not to be a teacher coupled with what kind of teacher are you, or will you be?

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