Survive and Advance

survive and advance

You would think I would be so used to the sound of my morning alarm that it would no longer be able to jolt me out of my sleep. But it still does. You would think that because I’d awaken at the same time so many weekdays and weeks in a row that I’d no longer need to hit snooze, getting an extra nine minutes with my eyes closed. Then after those nine minutes not contemplate whether or not I should hit snooze again. But I still do. Years before our world was put on sleep mode, I think I had more energy during the school year. I know I did. The problem is, it’s difficult to truly recall the mundane and consistent that existed before our global snooze. So now we are all here. And I find myself drained in the morning yet still spent in the afternoon. During school days, in the early afternoon I remind myself of three words: Survive and Advance.


Every year in college basketball the NCAA holds a season’s end tournament affectionately referred to as “March Madness.” Sixty-four, now sixty-eight or seventy-two––I can’t seem to keep up with the specific changes––of the top teams in the country enter in mid-March and by early April one team is crowned national champion. The tournament is a sudden death elimination style and, hence the moniker, subject to catastrophic upsets, last second finishes, and sporting chaos. A line made famous by 1974 national champion NC State coach, the late Jim Valvanno, the goal of the grueling tournament is to survive and advance. This school year, I shoot hoops with a group of students and fellow teachers Fridays after school. This school year, I remind myself of that line––survive and advance––from Sunday evening through noon Friday. This school year feels like one long, grueling March Madness tournament.    


This school year I’ve stopped answering colleagues with the words I’m good when they ask me how I am. I’ve somehow kinda naturally melted into answering that question with the words I’m here. It’s more truthful. Truth is, I am not good. I am merely here. Right now nothing will change this. No long weekend, no sauna or steam bath, no situation with school. Am I selfish to hope that summer break will reset my spirits? I know it must. Because to survive and advance should be a mindset reserved for coaches entering relentless competition. Not for teachers entering exhausting schools.  

Related Posts

matthew sitting on stairs

Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

Twitter Feed