I was about 15 when a family member shared a quote with me that was inscribed on a wall of his high school: “We live in deeds, not years.” It was something worth remembering. I tucked it into my mind, reminding myself of it on birthdays. By the time I reached my mid-twenties, I realized it didn’t matter WHAT I chose to do with my years on earth; it was how I chose to live that would matter the most. I recalled the “We live in deeds, not years,” quote from a decade before and adopted it as my own.
To me, a deed is something one does that reflects their character. I’ve chosen to live my life doing as much as I can for others as both a teacher and as a citizen. I am the kind of person who calls 911 to report a broken-down vehicle on the highway; the person who makes a card to thank someone when they give me a lift; the person who remembers to call a friend on their birthday rather than sending a text message. This means being compassionate towards students, family, friends, and strangers alike.
That being said, I came across a passage that made me think of “We live in deeds, not years” when I was reading Marley and Me last night. The author, John Grogan, created a theory about what he thought Marley’s Philosophy of Life was. The passage on pages 189 – 190 reads:
“Never slow down, never look back, live each day with adolescent verve and spunk and curiosity and playfulness. If you think you’re still a young pup, then maybe you are, no matter what the calendar says.”
I think the quote and the Grogan passage can be intertwined. When meshed, they can apply to teaching, thereby helping us see the big picture. After putting both together, these are the ideas I had that applied to the way we walk through life as teachers.
- Always advocate for your students.
- Be the kind of teacher you wish you had every year in school.
- Share laughs with your students. Have inside jokes with your class. Make sure your humor includes everyone in your room.
- Come to school each day with the desire to enrich your students’ lives, but don’t forget to have fun.
- No matter what year of teaching you’re in, be passionate about everything you teach.
When you pay no mind to the calendar, but just pay attention to how you walk through life every day, you will find fulfillment and meaning every day of your (teaching) life.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).