To our little student we are like celebrities, to our big celebrities we are simply there to serve them, the idea of having a life outside the classroom is simply impossible.
I recall a time early in my teaching career when I was teaching a 1/2 class. It was a Monday Morning, and usual for them to be happy and smiling when they saw me, but on this day one student was beyond the normal level of excitement, He was beaming. He saw form the distance across the playground ad came running over, grinning ear to ear. “Miss Green, Miss Green, Guess What? Guess What?” he shouted. “What is it?” I replied thinking he had some big exciting news, “I saw you at the shops on the weekend”, ‘You did?” I asked, “what was I doing?”, “You were buying your groceries” he shared with everyone around him. “Well I do get hungry” I replied.
In this moment it occurred to me, that for this student it hadn’t occurred to him that I might be doing something like buying groceries, that I might have to do other things or that I even leave the school grounds. Our little students especially have a perception that we live and breathe school to the point where I have even been asked where I sleep at night while a student looks around the classroom for my bed.
So how is that we are supposed to reduce the pressure on our selves when even our little people think we only ever exist at school?
Teachers are people too. In fact teachers are people first.
You are a person, before you are a teacher.
This is why you need to put you first, why you must take care of you, make time for you and schedule you into your day along with your students, family and everything else.
The issue lies when we are faced with so many external pressures which expect us to simply be teachers only. To live and breathe teaching, to be on email 24/7, to have parent meeting at 7am or 7pm because they work during the day, to pack a lunch each day as there is no way you can leave school to pop out and get something, to make appointments and deal with things like the bank and doctors after school and weekends because making appointments during the day is just not an option. Every decision is made with you the teacher in mind.
But what about you the person?
This is where you need to do some work. You need to know you as a person; who you are, what your values and beliefs are, what you like to do when you are not wearing your teacher hat. Teaching is a big part of your life, but there are other big parts of you too that also deserve your time and energy.
Time to shine not just as a teacher, but as a person too.
Not all lessons go to plan.
I know – you spend hours trying to plan that perfect lesson, getting the right resources, making sure students will learn but have fun too, making it accessible for all students – and then, it just doesn’t work. The plan fails. The students don’t like it, it wasn’t as fun as you had hoped, not all students could access the learning. Well…. this happens. To all teachers. And it is totally OK.
Sometimes our lessons don’t go to plan, but it doesn’t mean it is a total disaster, or that you failed or that nothing was learnt.
When this happens, it is up to you to make it meaningful, to ask what you can learn from it, to ask the students what they learnt, and this might not be just academic.
When this happens, the best thing to do is stop. Actually stop the lesson. Tell the students you can see this isn’t working and stop. Talk to them. Make a plan together, try again together.
There is always an opportunity to learn from the fail.
Somewhere along the way, we lose our desire to innovate, take risks and possibly fail. As teachers we want our students to succeed, which means we too want to succeed. This often looks like predictable lessons, safe lessons and lessons we know the ending to.
There is no dreaming here.
So next time you plan a lesson – DREAM BIG.
What’s the worst that can happen? ….you will only fail.