Sunday, November 1, 2015

Be Kind. Work Hard. Have Fun.

The rowdy kids in 3B have three rules.

Every single time there is an issue in our classroom, it boils down to the breaking of one of these three rules.  If you are goofing off with a friend during centers, you are not working hard.  If you are cutting in front of someone in line or excluding them on the playground, you are not being kind.  If you are in tears because you are so stressed over a test, you are no longer having fun.  The last rule may be the most important.

Teaching is a stressful job.  I am often overwhelmed with the responsibility.  Not only must I keep my students safe emotionally and physically all day, I must make sure they are meeting an enormous list of standards and expectations.  If you are a perfectionist, it is an impossible job.  I've never met a teacher that felt she was doing a perfect job all of the time for every student.  Quite frankly I would be very wary of such a teacher.  There is a high probability that she doesn't have a clue what she is doing.  As a side note, be very wary of teachers who give all As to every student for the very same reason.  Good teachers know that there is always the possibility that the lesson could have been a little more engaging. Lying in bed at night, all types of thoughts run through our heads.  Maybe I should have listened more carefully to the student complaining for the twenty-eighth day in a row that his stomach hurt, because he just threw up on my shoes.  Perhaps if I had found five minutes to sit one on one with the struggling reader and discuss cause and effect she wouldn't have failed her reading test.  Much like parenthood, teaching is a series of failures interspersed with rare, glorious moments of triumph.  It is easy to focus on the failures. The failures wear us down and make us frantic to squeeze in one more lesson, one more worksheet, one more assessment, or one more activity.  The frenzied characteristics of a person who feels like they are on the brink of failure, is not really the ideal leader to be stuck in a room with eight and nine year olds all day.

That's why the last rule is the most important.  It applies not only to the students, but also to the teacher.  Despite my best efforts, there will always be failures in 3B.  I teach my students to be kind, work hard, embrace the failures, laugh at themselves, and try again.  I tell them if they are trying their very best, it is always enough.  This blog is a forum for me to document my attempt to follow the very rules I have set for my students.  I challenge all frantic, frenzied, failing teachers to do the same!