One of my all-time favorite Pixar characters has to be Dory from Finding Nemo. This lovable Royal Tang is upbeat, caring, fiercely loyal, and always manages to find the good in other people (er, fishes). The fact that she’s voiced by the always-charming Ellen DeGeneres is really just icing on the cake. Yet, for all her great qualities, what really marks Dory as an amazing character is her perseverance.

The Secret to Crossing Oceans 

Both Finding Nemo and its sequel feature moments where Dory is confronted by daunting circumstances. Lost parents, a long journey, a swarm of jellyfish, her own short-term memory loss, this poor fish literally has an ocean of troubles. You might expect Dory to get discouraged, or to curl up and pout like her friend Marlin. Instead, in quintessential Disney fashion she brandishes a smile and begins humming her favorite song:

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. What do we do? We swim! Swim!

While Dory has plenty of reasons to be disheartened, she chooses to persevere and keep her eyes on her goal.

Facing Obstacles with a Smile

As educators, we show up in our schools and classrooms, and sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by the sheer weight of our responsibilities. We’re not just asked to be teachers, but coaches, confidants, cheerleaders, therapists, bodyguards, and so much more! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means the work we do has purpose. Still, it doesn’t leave much room for anything else, and it also means we experience higher levels of discouragement, burnout, and heartbreak.

So, what do we do when life gets us down? What if we take a note from Dory, and just keep swimming? Perhaps I’m being a little idealistic here, but I honestly believe the first step to solving any problem is to persevere. Dory didn’t always have an answer for the tasks she faced, but she didn’t let that stop her from trying. She chose to face her problems and work through them one step at a time. Perseverance may not be a solution, but it will change our outlook, and it will give us the courage to try that new PBL unit, that scary science investigation, or that untested collaboration strategy, and help us discover what we can accomplish when we choose to commit.

So, the next time you feel like the tides of life are about to pull you under, remember Dory, the little blue fish with a heart of gold who helped bring joy with a big smile and a simple song,

Just keep swimming!
Just keep swimming!
What do we do? We swim! Swim!

What about you? How do you persevere through teaching trials? Let us know if the comments or share your knowledge over social media! 

*Content for this blog was drawn from Thrilled to Be in the Picture by Terra Tarango.

**Image Courtesy of Pixar Studios,