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The Loser Test: Project 180, Day 162

Got interviewed again yesterday. No flattering, make-me-look-better-than-I-really-am video included. No preparation. No anticipation. I was put on the spot.

Walking back from the office during my prep yesterday morning, I was hailed by Tony, Tony the Tough, Tony who is as likely to glare at me as she is to smile at me. But that’s the nature of our relationship, has been for nearly three years.

“Got noodles?”

Some of you already know this, but for those who don’t, I feed kids. I started having food available on occasion to now having a full-fledged project called Feed Forward, through which, with the generous help of our community, I am able to feed dozens of hungry kids each day.

“Uh, yeah, I think. Haven’t looked yet, but if I don’t, I have some out in my truck. Let’s go look.”

Turns out there were a few, but they were all beef. And Tony wanted chicken, so I told her to wait, and I hopped out to my truck, grabbing the now near-daily supply.

“Here you go, Tone.”

“Thank you,” she smiled. And the interview began.

“Why don’t you think I like you, Sy?”

Taken off-guard. “Oh, I know you like me, but I also know that I have a knack for irritating you. And so that’s how I find you most days–irritated. So I play along.”

“Well, I like you.” 

“I know, and I like you. But this is weird, Tone.  I’d rather say, ‘good morning, loser’ than exchange pleasantries with you. That’s who we are.”

“Do you like–really like–being a teacher?”



“‘Cause they overpay me to make fun of kids.”

“No, really, what’s so good about it?”

“Well, kids fill my cup every day. They make me happy. They keep me young and hopeful. And so, I try to make a difference for them.”

“You do. You are.” As she moved to the door.

“Thanks, loser.”

“Whatever, loser.” 

Interview over. Back to normal with Tony after a brief Twilight Zone episode. I know that some will raise a brow at my calling kids losers. I get it. My job is to build them up, not break them down. And so, ‘loser’ may not be the best choice of words. But I have used the “loser test” for years. I use it to gauge the strength of my relationships with kids. I figure if I can call them loser without their getting hurt or offended, then I am in. It’s really about trust. They know–they trust–that I am not being mean. They know, in albeit an odd way, that I am really saying, “I am fond of you.” Again, I know that some will scoff at such logic, but it works for me. And I think those who know me best know that there is nothing more important than relationships in my classroom. Of course, I don’t call all kids losers. And I certainly do not begin the year calling kids losers, for I have not yet earned their trust. But every year, for now over twenty years, I have utilized the loser test. That’s a lot of years. That’s a lot of losers. Love every one of them.

Happy Tuesday, all.




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