As the new school year begins, it seems that most teachers eagerly anticipate the beginning of the school year just as much as the students. (I know I do! 🙂 ) However, there always seem to be one or two faculty members that just don’t seem to have that sparkle in their eye as they greet their students at the classroom door.
We all know them….
- They always seem to arrive later and later to school after the first week…
- They’re in a constant state of overwhelming fatigue (but you never really see them doing much)…
- They always seem to be talking about “negatives” when it comes to students (behavior, laziness, etc)…
- They seem to have lost the “joy” of teaching.
- WHAT they teach has become so much more important than WHO they teach.
- They have become cynical.
- Teaching has just become a job instead of a passion.
- They have lost hope that the future can only be better by providing students with the best possible opportunities today.
And this sort of thing just breaks my heart 😦 .
Students deserve better than this!
Face it, we aren’t in education for the money. In fact, I bet if we randomly polled a typical school, probably 90% of the teachers we asked would tell us they are in education to make a difference in the lives of students….At least that’s why I chose this field. Every day isn’t going to be fabulous, but at least you have been given the opportunity to make a difference for someone, even just one student. Students deserve the very best we can offer them! They look up to their teacher, even when they are in high school. Many don’t have parents that provide love and support…. and it is up to us to be their constant.
So what can we do to get our “spark” back if it’s dimmed over time?
- Remind yourself why you became a teacher. We all have a situation or person that inspired us to want to make a difference in the lives of students.
- “Adopt” a troubled student. We see them every day… the students who just seem to have no confidence. The ones who often avoid eye-contact in the hallway and often sit to themselves in lunch. The ones who just look so lost. Start by just saying a simple “Good Morning” or maybe ask about their day. Try to notice something about them that would help you identify with them~ Are they always drawing? Listening to music? Simply complimenting a student’s sketches or asking what their favorite song is can open the door to build a relationship with them. You might just find that you are the only nice person they know (because home isn’t so great, but they won’t tell anyone). Giving of yourself has the tremendous ability to make YOU feel as good as the person who receives your attention 🙂 It truly does take a village to raise a child.
- “Adopt” a faculty member that seems to be struggling. Sometimes even adults need someone to reach out to them. Teaching can be an isolated profession. We shut the classroom door, and become queen (or king) of our little kingdom. Sometimes, just having someone ask how you’re doing reminds us that we aren’t in this alone. It takes a village, remember? 🙂
- Control what you can control… and don’t stress about things you cannot. There are so many things that happen during the course of the school day it’s no wonder teachers are stressed out~ Papers to grade, lessons to plan, RTI meetings, grade level meetings, parent conferences, student conferences, testing, professional development… and on top of it all, you have to teach sometime 🙂 You can’t control all of the “external” stress (like all of the meetings), but you can control things like how prepared you are for your classes. To me, the most stressful days in the classroom seem to be those when I didn’t have a clear objective for the lesson and didn’t know exactly what I wanted my students to leave that day knowing. Sure, there will always be meetings to go to and unexpected things happen during the day, but if you’re prepared for the day, it just seems so much less stressful when these things happen.
- Do what you can to make the school a better place. Have you ever thought about what you personally contribute to making the school a wonderful place? Or, do you tend to sit back and criticize the way things are? In my experience, people that are not happy, tend to have the loudest voices and do the least amount of work to change the situation. Change that…. BE the agent of change instead of just wishing things were different. You might be pleasantly surprised that it is contagious 🙂
In the school where I work, I am watching the culture slowly changing…. and it’s amazing to me. Positivity seems to be replacing cynicism. There is a focused, conscious effort to foster relationships with students, as well as amongst faculty members. Openness and collaboration are commonplace, which is not so common in a high school. In short, we are focusing our efforts on improving ourselves, and our school culture, so that we can make a positive impact on the students in our school. Students deserve our best, nothing less.
No student deserves a teacher who has given up hope.