Whether you are a teacher, a department chair, an IT specialist, a division head, or a head of school, you will have some rough and rotten days. When you deal with human beings all day every day, and particularly when you deal with kids and their parents, you will have those days. It's an occupational hazard. To help me deal with those days, I keep a secret stash in the top, right-hand drawer of my desk. No one knows about this secret stash but me. If I die at my desk, I suppose someone will discover the stash then the secret will be out. Sometimes, this secret stash is what helps me make it through the mornings and breathe a little easier on my way out the door in the afternoons. I recommend you keep a stash, too.
As educators, we have a unique opportunity to make an impact on peoples' lives all day every day. If we're taking advantage of that opportunity, occasionally we will get written confirmation and validation in the form of thank you notes, Christmas cards and random letters from those whom we have impacted in some way. I keep them. All of them. If get an email instead of a handwritten note, I print it. When I have a rough day, when I wonder if I'm cut out for this line of work, when I need a reminder that my blood, sweat and tears are not being shed in vain, I go to my secret stash. I don't always go on a binge... often just a sampling will restore the smile to my face or the joy to my heart.
I know you've received notes and email communications that have been as meaningful to you as the ones I keep stashed in my desk. I urge you to keep them - all of them - and begin your own secret stash. I also encourage you to contribute to the secret stashes of those around you by writing notes, preferably handwritten, expressing your gratitude for their hard work, their positive attitude, the way they handled a situation, or the like. A little secret stash will go a long way.