As a former teacher, my New Year didn’t start on January 1st. Rather, it would begin at the start of the school year come August or September. And even though I’m not in the classroom anymore, I still find myself buying a new pack of pencils or scented markers each fall to mark the occasion.
Unfortunately, this back-to-school season is fraught with anxiety, frustration, and confusion for most educators as schools, districts, and states consider multiple plans and contingencies to keep teachers’ and students’ health a priority. Teaching is a 24/7 job, so it is understandable to be caught up in the political turmoil, cacophony of opinions, and logistical quagmire. But summer is a good time for reflection and looking ahead towards the new school year. So despite this upheaval, we wanted to encourage you to reflect on why you chose teaching as a profession in the first place … and we’re going to challenge you to do it in only six words.
Have you ever heard the urban legend of the six-word story? Apparently, legend has it that at a lunch one day, friends challenged Ernest Hemingway to craft a story in six words. It apparently was a ten-dollar bet! Of course, Hemingway rose to the challenge and wrote on a napkin, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Bet won.
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” – Ernest Hemingway
His friend conceded that indeed one could capture a story arc, character intrigue, and one’s attention in just a few words. Since then, others have tried their hand at the short story via SMITH Magazine’s Six-Word Memoirs project, Reddit’s /r/sixwordstories, and Tumblr’s Six Word Story collection.
So we challenge you to try the six-word challenge in answering, “Why do you teach?” Take some time to reflect upon how you entered the field of education. What pulled you deeper? What was that moment you knew you were hooked to the creative chaos of the classroom?
Now push yourself further and try to headline this coming school year in six words. Can you will a positive and empowering year into existence? We know that you could fill volumes with your tales from the classroom. I often joke that the most entertaining sitcom would be one that emulates the authentic day-to-day happenstance of school life. But there is discipline and focus that is needed to whittle down the essence and attraction of teaching into just six words.
Share with us on Twitter @ResilientEdu your #SixWordChallenge and let’s remind ourselves why we as educators are so committed and dedicated to our craft.