Site icon Laura Randazzo – Solutions for the Secondary Classroom

In Praise of Selfishness

You may recall that last week was pretty lousy around here. Needing to end the week on an up-note, I added a last-minute modification to my Friday lesson plan, a move guided purely by self-interest. As it turned out, the plan worked – my funk is officially over.

We’re elbow-deep in poetry and Friday was meant to be filled with a short How to Haiku lesson that I’d run out of time to use on Thursday. These kids, though, were taught haiku way back in third grade and really don’t want to write yet another poem about a leaf or a pebble. Instead, I spent a few seconds reminding them of the pattern, scrapped the nature photos, and assigned them to write a haiku in honor of an adult in our school district – it could be anyone but me. Fifteen minutes later, the Quarter Trio teams were done with their creations and I enjoyed snapping shots of their work. Their poems (some sweet, some funny) were charming.

During my lunch break, I sent a bunch of emails (it was easy to find email addresses within our district’s GMail system) that included this copy-and-pasted message and the relevant photo as an attached file:

Hey fellow district staffer,
As part of a poetry assignment I gave my classes today, students wrote haiku poems (yup – the good ol’ 5 syllable/7 syllable/5 syllable pattern) in honor of an adult they admire. You, apparently, left an impression that inspired my freshmen. Attached you will find their work. Think of it as a little early holiday cheer!
Thanks for being awesome,
Laura Randazzo,
Your fellow teacher in the trenches

Good deed done, I felt great as I tucked into my turkey sub. Then, something unexpectedly delightful happened. An hour after hitting that last “send” button, I came back to my laptop and this is a screenshot of what my email basket looked like:

Whoa. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one in need of some appreciation last week.

The 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes was critical of people like me, folks who are motivated by self-interest to take on altruistic tasks. But I’d counter that this is just a win-win, where one tired teacher has helped lift herself by buoying a whole crew of other tired teachers. I say, let’s be selfish. Make someone else feel good so you’ll feel good, too.

Teach on, everyone!

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