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Enroute Bitterroot

The "Why" File

Jessica Anderson

A Reminder for Why I Teach 

Have you ever had one of those days where you consider quitting your teaching job? Honestly, I think we all have. Whether the thought stemmed from a nasty phone call with a parent, a negative student or colleague interaction, or a dispute with an administrator, the thought has definitely crossed my mind. Fortunately, I received some fantastic advice during my first year at Powell County High School from my mentor Jacquie Vernard. She shared a powerful resource and tool, the why file. 

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You might already have your own version of the why file, a collection or archive of all the positive things about teaching. If not, I suggest you start one today!

Although I've only pulled it out a few times this school year, yesterday I encountered two instances that reminded me of it. As I cleaned out my file cabinet, I caught a glimpse of the archive. I briefly opened it up and explored some of its contents. As it always does, it made me smile. Second, as I perused Facebook, I saw a post on a friend's feed sharing a beautiful note from one of her students and suggested she place it in a why file.

The file folder itself isn't that exceptional. Heck, it's just a manilla folder labeled why? However, what's in it has talked me off the quitting ledge a handful of times. The file contains all the positive things students, parents, colleagues, etc. have ever shared with me. My folder contains heartfelt notes from students who I've positively influenced, e-mails from parents thanking me for inspiring their child with a love of science, and even my nomination letters for 2015 and 2016 Montana Teacher of the Year. It's a folder of inspiration, passion, and good advice. It's a folder everyone should have!

My why file is more than a folder; it's a constant reminder of why I love teaching. On my darkest days, it reminds me that teaching is a human profession, on the other side of my teaching is a learner waiting to be inspired.  When the clouds roll in I know that my why file will bring the sunshine I need to brighten my day!

What will you put in your why file?