It is that time of year again. Students are dragging themselves to the store to buy school supplies, teachers are putting up bulletin boards and sharpening pencils, and parents are breathing a sigh of relief. Yes, it is Back to School season.

For teachers, this is a time full of meetings, photocopying, curriculum work, decorating, lesson planning, brainstorming, and often, stress. These things are often expected. There is grumbling, whining, and even the occasional stomping of the feet. This is all for show.

Most of the teachers I work with love what they do. They believe that every child can learn and try to provide an environment where that is possible. Most succeed. Watching those teachers working with kids or listening to them talk about their commitment to education still amazes me. I sometimes stop and think, "Thank goodness all of the horror stories from my education courses about awful teachers aren't true."

Today, I was reminded that some of those stories are true. I attended a course in continuing education this morning. All of the people attending were teachers. It can be difficult to throw a whole bunch of teachers into a room when they don't want to be there. Those of us that wanted to be there participated and tried to be involved in the class. For others, it seemed as if they used the class as time to make obnoxious comments, talk on their cell phones, and belittle the work other teachers had done to prepare the class. It made me ashamed to be sitting near them.

I went into the teaching field to give students a chance to learn. I believe that in order to do that, I have to keep learning myself. Beyond some of the book learning from this morning, I learned a seemingly simple, yet important lesson:

Surrounding yourself with people who are willing to learn is one of the best things a teacher can do.