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Some Encouragement: Just Keep Swimming

Outside the Box Teaching Ideas


In the movie “Finding Nemo,” Marlin, a simple clownfish, faced a group of predators such as sharks, angler fish, and jellyfish, lost his way, and believed all chances of rescuing his son Nemo were gone. His companion, a little blue tang fish named Dori, came along and offered hope, singing a simple tune, “Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming.”

Throughout the day, teachers face stressful situations; behavioral issues, a parent conference that has gone bad, a poor observation, a lesson that just didn't work, testing, testing, and more testing, and so much more. While I wouldn't necessarily call student parents or my principal predators, I would say that sometimes it appears all hope is lost and defeat is inevitable.  Those three little words serve as an encouragement anthem, motivating one to keep pushing through.

This past month, I feel I have needed those three words more than ever. It has been one terrible situation after another in my school. Our principal resigned, the art teacher resigned, staff morale is at an all-time low, and with the winter that would never end, and the students are a bit stir crazy.

Replacement of the two positions this late in the year is not really an option. Someone will assume the principal role for the remainder of year and teachers are asked to teach their own art classes. In teaching this class, I have lost my planning period for the day. Yay, more stress.

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Staff morale is understandably low. The air is filled with tension and there are days I am hesitant to open my email, afraid of what other obstacles await. The overwhelming attitude I am sensing from co-workers is disheartening. With a little over eight weeks left in the school year, many feel we should just get it over with. The last few months of a school year are busy months filled with activities, special days, etc. To just “get it over with” wouldn't be fair to the students or to the reputation of the school. I, for one, don't want to end this way. I work with a great bunch of teachers who are usually so cheerful and excited about the school year, but the last few weeks have certainly made it challenging.

So what can I do?

First, I will smile more even when I don't necessarily feel like it. Smiles are contagious. I will work hard to maintain a positive attitude and decide to do whatever I can to fulfill my commitment to students. I can talk more, laugh more, and spend more time with my co-workers, listening and supporting them through this difficult time. I can send personal handwritten notes, e-mails, or leave little treats in their mailboxes just to let them know we can do this.

With the encouragement of his good friend, Dori, Marlin found Nemo, rescued everyone from the fisherman's net, made it safely home, and learned a thing or two along the way. If I, too, want to end the year on a successful note, I need to be that little voice in the hall singing, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” After all, it isn't over until the school bell rings!