The Gambler-#BLOG365 Day 165 #IMMOOC

My son’s taste in music is eclectic: Broadway show tunes, the Beatles, Elvis, Notorious B.I.G. He comes by it honestly. We are all equal opportunity when it comes to music in our house.

A few weeks ago my son watched Six Pack with Kenny Rogers. Since then he has been on a Kenny kick. We have had a lot of time in the car traveling this week, listening to the music on his iPad. This morning we listened to The Gambler and it struck me how appropriate the words were for educators.


You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep

This is pretty much the story of every day as an educator, knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em, knowing what to focus on and what to walk away from. You can easily get bogged down in all the subtleties of being a teacher and, as teachers, we are so often invested in every single subtlety, the small decisions that are part of the many hats we wear.

I have made the mistake of counting my money while I am still sitting at the table so to speak, believing I had crossed some hurdle with a student only to fall a few steps behind.

Working in curriculum for so long I am also keenly aware of how easy it is to get bogged down in lesson ideas, curriculum materials, Teachers Pay Teachers content, and supplemental materials. I have changed jobs a few times and every time I felt as though I was bombarded with “stuff” in my first week, teacher stuff, blackline masters, online access codes, assessments, and CD-ROMs.

The secret to surviving all this “stuff” is knowing what to keep and what to focus on. The secret is to ground your practice in your passions and talents, your knowledge of benchmarks and standards, your awareness of the kids in front of you.

There are so many posts that talk about the many jobs of a teacher. Now I can add gambler to that list of jobs. Teachers make a gamble every day in every decision they make, from the way they interact with a student to the way theyassess.

The outcome is always uncertain.

It’s ok to be a gambler. If we weren’t gamblers we wouldn’t be good teachers. Every day we take “risky actions in the hope of a desired result” like this definition says. We aren’t playing a game of chance with your kids. Rather, we are taking a chance on our kids and taking a chance on our individual practice.



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