Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 12:51:29 -0500 (EST)
Random Thought: A Toast To Teaching For 2002

Well, parties are about to begin, the corks are about to be popped, the toasts about to be made, the horns about to be tooted, the balls about to drop, the baloons about to fall, the confetti about to be thrown, the Auld Lang Syns about to be sung; the reflections are about to be reflected upon, and the resolutions about to be made resolutely. One year is about to be rung out and another about to be brought in. About time.

Like every year, this past year has been some kind of roller coaster ride. It had it's share of twists and turns, anxieties and exhilarations. There have been doses of stomach-wrenching highs and lows. It has left a unique seismic record. And, 9/11 certainly pushed and pulled many of us more than a little more than usual.

As for me, there really is no time or space for me either to sum up or give a true accounting of what 2001 has meant me and in my teaching except to say that, more than ever, I am unashamedly proud to be a teacher.

So much for 2001. What about 2002? With the all-seeing eyes of a Nostradamus, I will make a prediction. It is perfectly clear that the coming year will be foggy. I am certain it will be filled with uncertainty. My best guess is that the year will be, at best, a best guess. And I know, it will be fraught with unknowns. Little if anything will work out the way I either want or expect. And except for myself, there will be nothing and no one I can control.

And so, while I am not sure what the coming year has in store for me, I am sure it will have a store of surprises. I am sure nothing will be routine. I am sure that however prepared I want to be and prepare myself to be prepared, I will not be prepared for everything that comes when it comes. I can't step into a simulator and practice for every scenario. Unexpected stuff will come out from left field. It will from nowhere. It will occur whenever and from wherever. I know that on more than one occasion I will be tempted to grab for a consoling glass of wine or a relieving bottle of Execedrin muttering a "Why me?" and quietly vowing a "I will never again..."

Alas, I know "why me" and I know "I will." I will because I do know that in a life of teaching, maybe in life itself, the future doesn't belong to those who bemoan headaches or to those who are disconnected or to those who are discontented or to those who have given up hope or to those who mourn or to those who lay blame on others. It doesn't belong to those, whatever their physical age or the extent of their experience or the length of their resume, who hobble along with scoliotic and arthritic spirits. The future belongs to the spiritual and emotional upright, to the spry, to the deft, to the limber, to those who are ever-young at heart. It belongs to those for whom hope forever springs eternal. It belongs to those for whom the moment of each day is the defining moment. It belongs to those who know that every moment is a chance to change things. It belongs to those who celebrate each student. It belongs to those who dream big dreams for each student. It belongs to those who are daring enough to always rethink their thinking about and their acts towards each student. It belongs to those who are always redefining and elevating "normal," "average," and "good." It belongs to those who always are always bettering the "usual."

So, no resolutions. They're too easily said and just as easily ignored. Just a toast. Lift high your glass: May this be another year each of us is proud to be a teacher. May each of us come to know even more that our teaching is bigger than we knew. May we each come to see clearer that living the lives we lead adds to the lives of those around us. May we each realize more that every body is an important somebody. May we remain connected with the disconnected and unconnected. May we each be more exuberant about each student. May we continue to see beauty in each student. May we each remain unafraid to shine our light to bring light. May sincerity, authenticity, and love continue to pour out from our pores. May we always give off waves of caring vitality. May we have continued faith in faith, hope in hope, belief in belief. May we each continue to add value to and lift the lid of each student. May we each remain aware that we're here to build for the future. May we each keep on being determined to change things-- and discover that we just may. And may we each go on finding joy in having taken a few steps in the right direction and having a humility in knowing there are so many more steps to take. To Teaching.

Happy New Year to one and all.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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