Like a camel...

Today's Thoughts: Today I met two sweet girls who have moved from Iran to the school where I teach. We talked briefly, I introduced myself and, while talking, I was reminded of a story that we tell in our family. When I first met my husband, he used to tell a story about his parents...they were nomadic, his father had 100 camels, they only came into cell range once a year. In actuality, my husband came from a well-established family and the first time he saw a camel it was in the San Diego Zoo. As a homage to this story (which gets wilder every year), we have a large camel collection in our house, including a large carved wood camel.

Camels are actually very amazing animals. They are not something that we, as Westerners, really think about, other than they wander the desert and have humps (oh...and they are now the center of the "Hump Day" jokes.) A camel's hump is composed primarily of fat which they break down into water and use for energy. The camel can travel up to 100 miles at a time without water. When they do need to refuel, they can drink up to thirty gallons of water in less than thirteen minutes. They are unique and incredible animals.

In many ways, teachers are like camels. In the desert which has become the education system, energy and inspiration must be found. The ability to take what one has and use it for energy and inspiration is what most teachers need to do. Traveling in packs, teachers conserve their resources, holding them close. Each step of the journey can be difficult, transporting knowledge over an often desert-like expanse...hoping to bring information to the fertile minds of those we teach. Teachers also have the ability to refuel in an amazingly short period of time.

Camels are pack animals and, like teachers, need to carry heavy, often precious loads. Teachers navigate through testing schedules, common core curriculum, and the vast number of additional expectations that are placed upon them, knowing that the ultimate goal is delivery of their precious loads, the students.

Finally, camels are often an under appreciated animal. Walking through the barren desert, a place where no animal wants to be, they trudge along, an uncomplaining workhorse. Teachers have often taken on this role as well...under appreciated and over scrutinized while continuing on their ever important journey of educating the future of our world.

Today's Gratitude: Today I am truly grateful to be part of a system that has the potential to change the future for so many. Although this system is in many ways fractured, there are many who are working tirelessly to change the course of the education system at both a micro-level and at large. Through this gratitude work, I have really come to appreciate conversations with other educators, sharing ideas about how to move our students forward. Recognizing that many of our students are working at a disadvantage, we push forward, exposing them to as many possibilities as are available, while continuing to push for more opportunities for them. I am grateful for mindful conversations, for connections with other professionals, and the ability to express my opinions to others in my "pack." For the first time in many months I am hopeful...hopeful that my journey will take me to the oasis at the edge of the desert...a place where I will be able to rest and refresh with other camels like me...


  1. What an awesome and inspirational piece of writing! I am not a teacher yet, but a few months away from being there and to hear somebody in the "pack" that is positive is refreshing. I also learned a ton about camels that I didn't know and where before I might take being compared to a camel offensive, I find it a compliment. Keep packing those kids!

  2. I really enjoyed your metaphor of teaching being like a camel. What a neat way to look at it! :)


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