Contrary to a popular urban myth among students, teachers are not stored away in boxes over the summer break. Believe it or not, they actually continue to function as normal human beings.

Some of them have summer jobs. Some of them go on vacations with their families. Some of them even participate in professional development opportunities to become better teachers!

I recently spoke at a conference for educators about the art of being a good teammate. Sitting in the audience was a teacher who was preparing to enter her forty-third year in the classroom.

Kudos to her!

I try to engage the audience when I speak and get the attendees to share their experiences. Rarely do I leave an event without picking up a nugget or two of wisdom from my interactions with the audience. Their stories are insightful and often offer a perspective that I had not considered.

The teacher preparing for her forty-third year was especially insightful. You don’t last that long in the teaching profession without loving your work and acquiring a sense of purpose.

She had a petite frame. Her hair was frosted by age and the lines on her face reflected her many years of working with wayward students. But she had a warm, welcoming smile that made people feel special.

Her smile was perfect for her line of work.

I asked the woman what she thought was the one thing she did best as a teacher. With a slight lisp and a hint of a southern drawl, she replied, “I send ‘em home with anticipation.”

The teacher went on to describe a sign on her desk that read: “Be someone who makes someone else look forward to tomorrow.” She didn’t know who said the quote, nor where she had even gotten the sign. But she did know that it was her constant source of inspiration. She was committed to being a someone who made others look forward to tomorrow.

When she sent her students home at the end of each school day, she made a point to tell them that she couldn’t wait to see them back tomorrow. She sent them home with anticipation, eager to discover what the next day held.

Her students couldn’t wait to return to school. They loved being with her and she let them know she loved being with them.

Good teammates embody this philosophy. They make the rest of the team look forward to tomorrow. Good teammates are pleasant to be around. They are energetic and their actions motivate us act. We enjoy their company and they make us crave more.

How the veteran teacher sent her students home each day underscores the power of the words we choose. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words go straight to our hearts. Words can hurt or they can heal. Good teammates care enough to choose words that heal and provide hope.

They use their words to make others look forward to tomorrow.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is a leading authority on the good teammate mindset. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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