Have you ever walked into a place – any place – and thought, “The people here really love their job!”? We were on vacation last year in Colorado, and we went in this pizza place. The guy standing out the counter calling out our name to let us know our food was ready was doing his job with so much joy, we automatically felt like we had made a friend. We felt like he was genuinely thankful that we were there, he really liked his job, and he was there to serve. We still talk about that place and that guy.
Now, I want you to think about the opposite. Have you ever walked into a store or place of business, and knew immediately that the person helping you did not want to be there or helping you in that moment. No one likes that feeling, regardless of what the person on the other side of the counter is going through.
Teachers and administrators are stressed right now, and they have every right to be. But it’s not the students’ faults that we are in a pandemic, right? It’s not their fault that virutal learning is not the best practice for most of our students, or that they don’t like to have masks on. How we project our stress, fear and feelings will directly inpact students.
This is one of the most difficult parts of being an educator – separating our personal feelings in order to serve our students. Students can quickly pick up if you don’t want to be there, or if the students seem like a burden.
I know you are passionate about teaching. I know you love your kids. I know you are working super hard, and many of you feel like you are juggling two full time jobs with virtual and face to face learning. The unknowns make it difficult to plan ahead, and making connections has proven a very formidable task with many students! But you’ve hung in there, and your kids notice.
Here are a few reminders for you as we enter what seems to be the most difficult time of a normal school year!
- Students want to know you love your job. They deserve this. Here are a few things to consider:
- If you are always counting down to the days when school is out or days when the students aren’t there, they pick up on this.
- If you are complaining about your job, or seem annoyed, they will pick up on this.
- Tone of Voice is everything! Are you redirecting (because students will need to be redirected) in anger and frustration, or in the spirit of teaching and guiding back to learning.
- Your demeanor when students enter and leave your classroom is hugely impactful! Are you distracted and busy, or welcoming and genuinely happy to see them? I know a teacher who literally tells her 8th graders that she loves them every day as they exit her classroom.
You are working so hard, and I know you are tired. Your students are tired too. I know these reminders are super basic, but sometimes even in parenting, its good to have a moment to refocus on the love and passion you have for what you get to do.
My son will look back on this year, his 5th grade year, as one of his best – because of his teachers. What will your students think as they look back? You’ve got this.
We are here to help! Check out YouTube for some hands-on strategies (Jenn Kleiber), our Teaching By Reaching Podcast (on Apple and Spotify), and check out the website (www.pressing-onward.org) for how we can partner with your campus or school district to support you on your journey to cultural competence and responsiveness in the classroom!