One of the hardest things is to start fresh each day with our students. Some students are nice, but other students are mean. They say things that hurt our feelings! But if we carry their words with us into the next day, we run the risk of allowing past hurts to keep us from giving them another chance.
This doesn’t mean that we forget all their misbehaviors and erase the wrong that’s been done. It just means that we can’t take things personally. As we seek to follow through with consequences, the aim is to help, not penalize.
We should be striving to assist our students in becoming more responsible, caring individuals instead of trying to get them back for something they did that hurt us. No lie: you’ve got to be tough to be a teacher! It doesn’t matter where or who you teach. It’s a hard profession.
The best thing we can do for ourselves is to remember that the “kids” we teach are just “kids” and that any kind of hurtful actions or words that they might direct our way are just pieces of evidence that someone else along the way dropped the ball with them. Let’s not be the next person.
Let’s aim, instead, to carry the ball: let’s stand our ground without being mean about it. Let’s enforce the rules and expect greatness from our students without being unreasonable. Let’s be flexible and understanding. Let’s take things on a case-by-case basis. Let’s use discretion. Let’s treat each student as an individual. And most importantly, let’s seek to build our students up, not tear them down, even the mean ones.
This means that we should choose compassion instead of criticism. We already have the power; we’re the teacher! Let’s use that power for good and not harm. Easier said than done, right? Well, we get there only one step at a time, one student at a time.
The next time one of your students is out of line, talk to him or her one-on-one, not in front of everyone else. Give him or her a chance to do some talking while you do some listening. Then be decisive and assertive as you do some direct talking, all the while allowing your care and concern to shine through.
Just like we’re not in a coolest teacher contest, neither are we in a meanest teacher contest. A lot of the students we teach come from homes that aren’t so great. Let’s be an example of what a real adult looks like. Real adults do a lot of two-way communicating, and they focus on finding solutions to problems, not creating more conflict on account of seeking revenge.
Adults follow through, and they treat others with respect. Our students will become more respectful as they follow our example. It won’t happen overnight, but that’s why teaching is so hard: we have to persevere.
But each day is a new day. We will have days that go great, and we will have other days that don’t go so great. Start fresh today. Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re in the trenches, face-to-face with students who haven’t learned yet how to be grateful. Decide to be the reason that they start showing some respect—because you start fresh with them each day.
Thoughts for Effective Teaching: Maintaining Perspective and Remaining Reflective While in the Trenches of Teaching by Tiffany Tyndall is available for purchase here.