September 21, 2010

Four Lessons for Teachers to Learn

I once heard the quote, “The greatest gift you can give your students is a happy and sane teacher”.

It kind of changed my world.

It for sure changed my classroom.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the end-result (testing, state requirements) that we forget who we’re plowing over to accomplish our goals.

So here are some things I’ve learned over the years...

1. Always be more patient.

They need it and so do you.

Used to, if a student had their head on the desk or were staring off I would remind them once and if they still didn’t do what I would ask I would sternly tell them to read/work etc. If they didn’t respond almost immediately the fighter in me came out.

I have begun to see the power in giving people space. I wait a minute or two longer than I would want and almost without fail, they comply.

In the end, they’re happier, and I’m happier.

2. Everyone wants to be respected. 

I want to be respected and they want to be respected.

Basic honesty and mutual respect goes along way in the classroom. I’ve learned that if someone said something one period to test my authority and I took it personally, then I should be open with the next class that I’m not as laid back as usual and I may seem snappy and if so, I APOLOGIZE.

Students appreciate it and offer a lot of mature compassion AND they actually apologize for whatever made my day bad.

It makes me love them, and I like to think makes them love me more too.

3.  Apologizing makes the world a better place.

I apologize often (though I'm sure not enough!) for forgetting things, snapping at students, being unprepared etc. and without fail, they let their guards down and appreciate it. That makes me love them more.. and helps them to love me more.

And above all...



For years I took snide comments and eye rolls personally. “Do they not know how hard I work? Do they have any idea the hours I put in for them?!!”

Well of course they don’t. They’re hormone ridden teenagers who have life bearing down on them.

They’re scared. They’re hurt. They’re focused on the whatever big issue is going on in their lives... feeling unloved or unlovable, losing friendships, parents divorcing, friends committing suicide, getting pregnant. Big issues go on in their lives, and they’re learning how to deal with it.

Sometimes, they’ve learned how to deal with issues in not so good ways. The last thing they need is for me to respond emotionally and to get offended. They need at least one example of patience and logic.

Everyone’s happier when I don’t take things personally. Especially me!

And when I find out months later what horrible thing they were going through, I don’t have to hate myself for lashing out at them.

Not taking things personally changes the way I teach and relate to my kids.

What have you learned as a teacher?

Here's to hoping your next week and next semester are the best to date~


Jenifer said...

You are beautiful. Your heart makes my heart leap. Thank you for loving these kids. Thank you for pouring yourself into them. Thank you for allowing God to love them through you. Thank you for respecting them. Thank you for apologizing. Thank you for letting them be who they are. They may never say thanks or even understand the impact you are having on them, but I know. I know what you are doing and I know how you are molding them - or, even more, allowing God to mold them through you. And bless you for allowing God to mold you through them. Bless you.
Much love friend!

The Reeds said...

Thanks Jenifer. It was such a joy to teach with you and to see your passion for our sweet kids.

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