Football Fandom. To Be or Not to Be…

By Shannon Boatwright

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.

 

There is no question for me. I end them. Yep, I could not care less about football. Heavens to Betsy, what is wrong with me!?!?!!!???!!!! I’m a Southern girl and deep down I could not care less about football????? Oh, the horrors!

Ok, so I’m getting a bit dramatic here by using a Shakespeare soliloquy from Hamlet to reference my disdain for football season. But bear with me, ‘cause I know I am not alone. I may not be surrounded by people who are in my camp of dislike, but I know they’re out there. I have internet, I’ve read blogs. There are other people out there who share in my suffering. Yes, I know Hamlet is contemplating life versus death in this gorgeous, deep soliloquy, but work with me here. I’m looking at it from a different point of view and well, I AM a drama teacher so excuse me for not being able to resist integrating a little Shakespeare, as I do think he’d consider the whole football shebang absolutely ridiculous.

Cheerleader

Now, all you football fans, the psycho ones included, don’t get your panties ina wad, I have respect for the sport and am not trying to diss anyone. I’m just simply stating that IT’S NOT MY THANG. And nowadays, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was a cheerleader in high school and I loved the environment of cheering on others. As I grew up, I recognized I love the coming together, the passion, the partying. Would I rather tailgate than actually watch the game? You betcha. I’m not gonna let a bunch of 20 something year-olds ruin my day because they couldn’t complete a truly complicated pass to win a game.

That daggone game they’re playing is HARD. So, when relatives and/or friends are screaming at the TV because their player did not succeed in whatever play…let’s just say, it’s all my sarcastic self can do not to yell in their obnoxious face, “You get out there and do it yourself, you overzealous dingbat!”  Sorry, it’s just one of my pet peeves when it comes to humanity. Of all the things to fuss about and most humans waste their energy on something they themselves could never do, something that is literally just a game.

And let’s just consider for a quick moment the fact that I’m a teacher and the reality that football players (college and professional especially) are treated like absolute rock stars, yet teachers – THE ANGELS WHO GROW, INSPIRE, REACH & TEACH ALL celebrities and rock stars – don’t get paid squat compared to these football people. We don’t get a quarter of the notoriety, AND we are grossly underappreciated… well, it’s enough to boil my blood. Do we sacrifice our bodies like a football player? Not necessarily, but we certainly sacrifice our sanity, our health and time with our families.  Those of us who give over 100% to the profession of teaching absolutely make incredible sacrifices. So why is the world so backward? Why are teachers not being interviewed at press conferences and being hailed as superstars? Why aren’t teachers being paid millions for literally growing and inspiring good humans who contribute to society?

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. A society of backward nonsense. That to me is the world of sports to a degree. No one in their right mind can deny the ridiculousness of it. Again, does this mean I have any disrespect for the people of sports and their awesome hard work? Absolutely not, my admiration is huge. I just wish teachers were awarded the same respect, admiration and monetary worth.

Carolina FootballSo… back to my point, do I personally enjoy the football fandom? Not really, nope. Do I sometimes laugh at it? Yep, can’t help it. But hey, to each her own. If getting all worked up, raising your blood pressure and screaming at the tv or field brings you joy, then I’m all for it. If the Gamecocks are playing the Tigers, will I hoot and holler for the Cocks? You betcha. Will I enjoy the drinks and food more? Probably. I admit it, my world will not end if a team I like loses a game. As I lose my husband, my best friend and other people in my life to football fandom, I’ll keep moving forward and enjoy the passion in the game, and try to keep the big picture from completely ticking me off and instead, just let it continue to be a character study in the absurdities of humanity.

Shakespeare QuoteDo I take arms against this sea of troubles? Nope! Totally not worth it. There are too many humans who are completely and utterly taken with the game. Instead, I stay nobler in the mind and just suffer a bit.

Here’s to surviving this season of football fandom and here’s to hoping the food and drinks are really darn good! As Shakespeare says so well, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”   😉  😉

Go Team!

 

What Did You Do This Summer?

By Shannon Boatwright

As a teacher, it’s one of those questions you get asked a lot…as if we’re going to respond with some magical, fabulous and/or impressive descriptions of all the incredible things we experienced and accomplished over our treasured summer break.  Of course, people don’t seem to realize that some, or I should say, most teachers actually still work over the summer, whether with a second job to help fill in the terrible pay gap or whether they’re having to take chunks of their summer to take required classes in order to keep up certification and/or to reach that next pay raise level.I'm a Teacher.

In years past, I’ve had to take classes and fill my summers with studies and classwork. This past summer I decided to give myself a break. No classes, no time taken away from the break that I earned and definitely needed!

Now, last summer was literally the ONLY summer that I was actually able to respond to people with something fabulous that knocked my own socks off, much less others. I never dreamed I’d be able to respond and tell folks that asked that lovely question that I’d actually gotten the opportunity to go to France and Switzerland -and it was one of the most memorable, amazing experiences of my life! Ironically last year when someone would ask what I did over the summer, I’d almost feel a bit embarrassed to say anything about my incredible trip because it so was NOT a normal travel experience for me. I’ve written a previous blog about it  Are You Experiencing One Wild and Precious Summer? You should check it out. It’s a good one for sure. I’d say it’s inspiring. 😉

But back to this summer, my summer of 2018. No fancy excursions in first-class to fantastic, far off fantasy like locations. But, I did indeed make it a great summer. (An important side-note to those reading…you don’t have to go on impressive, big time trips to create a fabulous summer for yourself!)

This summer, I utilized quality time with precious family and friends. I caught up on much needed sleep when my busy mind would allow it. I spring-cleaned and organized. We took only two short family trips – one to the mountains (See blog entry, Live Your Life!) and one recently, to the beach. And the beautiful thing…we made the most of every moment and greatly appreciated our time together. It was a summer with those I love and adore. It was a summer that allowed me the time to just be, to read, to work on future aspirations and gain personal insight.

Did I accomplish even half of what I wrote on my summer to-do wish list? Nope.

Did I accomplish other impressive things that weren’t on my list or even in my mind at the end of the insanely busy school year? Yep.

Did I gain weight and eat really well over my summer? Oh my gosh, YES. I immensely enjoyed cooking for my family, trying new recipes and sharing the yummy results of my cooking with family and friends!

Did I experience my own inner battle of deciding to accept my fuller bod and recognize my own health happiness? Actually…yes.  It’s a constant work in progress, but with every year I have the pleasure of being alive, I’m learning to accept and rejoice in not only my talents, gained knowledge and individual gifts as I age and mature, but also accept my body and rejoice in its flourishing, changing ways! (That’s of course the super positive outlook I’m feeling in this moment. I’m quite certain if you were to catch me tomorrow in the moment when I try on a piece of clothing in my closet that will inevitably be way too small, I’ll most likely respond a bit differently. Just saying. I am only human after all. We’re Only Human) 😉

So what did I do this summer?

I lived. I survived. I rested. I played. I dreamed. I rejoiced. I engaged in being ever grateful. I created. I researched. I planned for my future and the future of my family. I planned as a drama teacher/director and what I want to provide for my students.

I tried my best to appreciate every moment with those I love. I listened to the sounds of the creek in the mountains. I made sure to consciously listen to the sounds of the ocean at the beach. I made sure to play with my children – we wrestled, we fished, we created, we watched movies, we rode bikes, we swam, we played pretend with my precious little nieces & cousins, we colored, we rode ocean waves, we jumped for joy on the beach…

Did I do something totally spectacular, crazy impressive over my summer?  Maybe not in most folk’s eyes, but, I did me. I had a super summer.

Jumpin for Joy on the Beach

Now here’s to hoping people will stop asking the question, “When do you go back to school?”

Note to readers: Never ask a teacher when she or he has to go back to school. We’re on summer break. Spare us, please… pretty please.

And now, you know I have to ask…

What did YOU do this summer?

 

How Do You Read?

By: Shannon Boatwright

Alright, so here it goes…I’m going to admit that I’ve actually learned something, as an adult, from a class that I was forced to take. Yep.

I’m a teacher and director of the fine arts. And I like to think I’m darn good at what I do.  I’m a true lover of the arts and currently I get to teach middle school kids how to express themselves. I teach them how to control their bodies and voices to express themselves successfully and portray characters. I teach them the benefits of concentrating and cooperating, letting them experience it. I inspire them to use their imagination. I attempt to create opportunities for students to explore their talents and most importantly, to increase their self-confidence. Unlike most drama teachers, I don’t just teach theatrical terms and unload a bunch of theatre “stuff” on a classroom full of kids in which 95% of the students I teach will likely NOT seek a profession in theatre. I take the opportunity to teach these precious kids the true elements of drama, the tools in the actor’s toolbox – body, voice, imagination, concentration, cooperation – and how to successfully utilize them.  All tools that will help them in EVERY area of their lives, no matter what profession they go into.

Needless to say, I’m passionate about what I do and although teaching in the public school system is incredibly challenging, has aged me considerably and definitely is not financially rewarding, I strive to make a positive difference in these students’ lives. The true rewards come in the success of my students. And I can confirm that those successes, small to some, huge to others, are positively priceless.

All that being said, (and of course I could say more, but on to my point of this blog post…) one of the many requirements by the state was that all teachers take a class called “Read to Succeed”. The instant reaction is, well, naturally and unapologetically, sarcastic, “Fantastic, another thing we teachers are required to do. Another time-wasting, no money-making, not-making-me-a-better-teacher, required THING”. Sorry, but that’s the blunt truth that we teachers are used to. Sure it’s not every time, but daggomit it happens all too often. So yes, pardon me for jumping to obvious conclusions, but all too often us teachers aren’t allowed the time to just do what we do best. All too often we are weighed down with silly requirements and nonsense that tends to be a most unfortunate, serious waste of time.

So here’s the admission – though this required class I had to take certainly did not need to be stretched out over so many hours and could’ve been condensed and simplified, I did learn something valuable from it. Thankfully. “Read to Succeed” is actually an appropriate name for this state-required course. Every teacher uses reading in their classrooms on some level and the truth of the matter is, we take for granted this idea that all kids can properly read when they get to our classes. This sadly is not the case. I’ve known that students read differently, with a different level of skill as they read out loud. My focus has usually been on that skill of reading out loud, applying character and emotion. But what this class has taught me is that we need to help students to think while they read. Hmmmm…. Yes, there’s the key! Forget sounding out words and all that reading “stuff” we’re used to hearing. Students need to learn how to actually understand what they’re reading. Make sense of what they’re reading. Visualize and grasp the content, the story, while they’re reading. They need to think while they read.

So how do you read? What was your reading experience like growing up? Do you remember being taught how to read? Did you experience struggles that you had to overcome to be a successful reader? As an adult do you still have moments in which you read a paragraph and have no clue what it was about? Then you end up reading it 2 or 3 or more times before you gain the focus to take in the meaning? Yea, me too. It happens. Now imagine a student struggling with that same thing, a teacher thinking they’re understanding what they’re reading, and yet a student possibly not having a clue what they’re reading. We have to teach the art of thinking while reading!

I hope you were able to think while you read my blog. 😉

Working with Friends

By: Shannon Boatwright

I recently read an enlightening article called, “How Coworkers Affect Your Job Satisfaction,” written by Jacob Shriar.

In the article, I came across an interesting bit of information about the results of a 20-year study on the work environment in all sorts of different job fields. They expected factors like long work hours or having a mean boss to be a major factor affecting a person’s health. According to the article, “What they found instead, was that the factor most closely linked to health was the support of coworkers. The meaner a colleague was, the higher their risk of dying. According to the study, middle-aged workers with little or no “peer social support” in the workplace were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study.”

 Wowzers! Isn’t that crazy!? This was really eye opening for me, especially since lately I have felt especially thankful for my amazing coworkers. I am truly blessed to have colleagues that are not only supportive, but many of them are like family. We’ve created a special bond that has helped us all to better survive and make the best of our job situations. I always say, if it weren’t for them, I’d never last in my position in our messed up education system. We band together and lift each other up. We always have each other’s backs. We love and care for one another. The support is real and genuine. I can’t imagine my life without these people I’ve come to know and love.

Reading this article just added scientific back-up to what I knew in my heart already: having friends at work is truly important to our mental health. Check out the article link above and take stock of your own work environment. Do you have a friend at work? Do you have a family of fabulous colleagues? It really is important and can be so beneficial to your overall health! If you’re like me and are blessed to have an incredible support system at your place of work, thank those special friends. Let them know how much you appreciate them. As they say…appreciate the good people in your life. They are hard to come by!

To my family at CMS, I positively adore you all! I’m here for you and can’t thank you enough for being there for me in return. You fill my heart and lift my soul! Big smiles and millions of thank you’s!

Carpe Diem!!

By: Shannon Boatwright

Seize the day and make your lives extraordinary!

The great Robin Williams spoke these incredible words in a brilliant film called “Dead Poets Society.” What a gem that piece of art was and still is. See the short movie clip below of our brilliant and gone-way-too-soon Mr. Williams giving this priceless piece of advice to a group of young men.

I actually use this saying in my middle school drama classes. It serves as a great way for me to hopefully inspire these kids and it helps me gain their attention. The students can be engaged in group work or pre-class chatter and I will yell “Carpe Diem!!!” and they will all respond, with passion, “Seize the Day!!!” It’s quite the empowering, cool experience. As soon as they finish saying the word “day”, the room is completely silent – which creates this really cool vibe in the air, especially after we’ve just yelled something so powerful, in unison.

I show my students the clip from the movie and use it as a way to inspire them to make the most of their time with me and throughout their day. Let’s face it, like Robin says, we will all one day be dead, it’s an inevitable part of life. So why not make the best of life while we’re living it? I encourage them to make a real effort, give everything their best shot. Life is too short to waste it away and be unhappy. Let’s make it count while we have the opportunity.

Now many of us, young students included, often see motivational videos about pursuing your dreams, getting out there and making great things happen – seizing the day! And a lot of these videos feature superstars, Olympic athletes…individuals who are exceptional and seem super-human. In my classes we discuss how these kinds of videos can indeed be very motivating and inspirational, yet it’s not always necessarily what the real world looks like for most of us. We can’t really stop everything we’re doing and go rule and rock the world. It’s just not quite that easy. We have responsibilities, requirements of life. In the real world, it’s not always feasible for anyone, much less a kid, to drop what they’re doing and suddenly reach for the stars, climb the tallest mountains, make a hit record overnight, create cures, or become president. It’s a process, succeeding at life. Seizing it takes hard work and effort. And I can guarantee a lot of us don’t look like visions of superhuman perfection while we’re making that effort. So…I make it a point to explain that when we use “Carpe Diem” in my class, we are using it as a means of gathering focus and reminding ourselves to make our best effort in that moment. Together we seize our day, making the best of the small moments that will lead us to do great things, big and small.

Here’s to making our lives extraordinary!

Carpe Diem!

Realize This is the Real World

By: Shannon Boatwright

So there’s this video circulating on Facebook. It’s been out in the web world for over 6 years now. But it’s resurfaced, rightly so, since we’re in total back-to-school mode. I’d seen it before but I recently watched it again, getting a good chuckle. As a good, hardworking teacher, you certainly get the point of the video. Any school employee that deals with craziness from parents will get this video.

Sure, there are unworthy people out there in the education system who should not be granted the privilege of teaching or even be in the presence of students. Sadly, passionless, burnt out, sad sacks exist in the education world. Sometimes you just can’t avoid those types. But the truth is, they are far and few between. There are millions of truly passionate teachers and dedicated folks who do care so very much and try their hardest to do everything they can do to provide the best education for our children.

 

Watching this video again reminded me of the great privilege I have to inspire, educate and hopefully create outstanding, respectable, hardworking individuals that will contribute to society. All that said, as you watch the video and chuckle too, whether you’re a parent, grandparent, guardian or supporter of children and education in any form, please remember that all the weight does not fall on the shoulders of the teachers, administration or support staff. An enormous part of creating, building, and molding a successful student must come from a student’s support system at home AND must be met with an individual student’s own effort and dedication to doing their best.

Like the school voicemail message states, this is the REAL world and “your child must be accountable and responsible for his or her behavior, classwork, and homework.” The answer to why a particular student is failing at anything, may not be due to a teacher’s fault. Always stop to consider this and make sure that your student, your child, is making an honest effort.

My personal mantra for the new school year, as a passionate, Arts-loving Drama teacher, is one of Brendon Burchard’s many fabulous quotes,

“Grant me the strength to focus this week, to be mindful and present,to serve with excellence, to be a force of love.”

Here’s to a successful new school year that will hopefully produce a sea of inspired, educated, standing-ovation-worthy students that will move on to do great things in their lives that will make a positive difference in this crazed world of ours!  🙂

I’d Rather Be…

By: Shannon Boatwright

I came across an anonymous quote that says, “I’d rather be completely exhausted from the hard times which breed success…than well rested from achieving nothing.” I can, with confidence, say that I have achieved this.

This special student message is one of the moments that makes all the hard work totally worth it!

This special student message is one of the moments that makes all the hard work totally worth it!

With each year I’ve been teaching in the public school arena, I’ve somehow managed to get busier. My first year, I was overwhelmed, proving myself and in survival mode as I dove into a whole new world. I certainly experienced firsthand the importance of needing to learn to say NO to taking on new things and responsibilities. I thought for sure I’d have it all down for my second year. Yes, I was better equipped with that first year under my belt, but fellow teachers and perfectionists know that we still take on the world and the busy-ness just truly never stops! I outdid myself with my shows and required trainings on top of planning a wedding and moving into a new house.

A precious student note that meant the world to me

A precious student note that meant the world to me

When my third year came along I guess I just wanted to really test myself and challenge myself to the core, because this past school year I:

  • Settled into a newly built school with no real classroom
  • Adapted to a new school schedule
  • Bought a new house, which led to yet another huge move
  • Took on two grad classes back-to-back while teaching full time
  • Produced/directed an enormous show with 56 honors drama students.

And I won’t even get into the personal stresses, responsibilities, requirements, commitments, health issues, and drama that are an inevitable addition to my professional life!

Grad class Final Grade - Worked incredibly hard for this A!

  Grad class Final Grade – Worked incredibly hard for this A!

Final grade for my last grad class of the year!!

Final grade for my last grad class of the year!!

I’m sure there are many of you out there who can totally relate. Needless to say, reading that quote made me realize that everything I do, everything I struggle to survive, all my busy-ness that keeps me on my toes and in a lot of cases, fills my heart, is all worth it in the end. I work so hard….so when those beautiful moments come – those moments that remind me why I’m working so incredibly hard and how my efforts help to inspire others make me a better teacher, a better mother, a better person – they make it all incredibly worth it.

Yes, I’d rather be exhausted from the success than bored amongst ineffective restfulness.