This week’s blog is a forwarding of an article about what it is like to walk in the shoes of a student. Hope you enjoy!
“Today in class Math class, (INSERT STUDENT NAME) had another outstanding day. He started out by adding to his self-made drawing book titled “Book of Demons”. I think I saw my name on one of them as well as all of his other teachers. Then he nearly broke a sweat NOT writing any of the notes and formulas needed for today’s lesson. He sang opera on two different occasions and continuously wiggled his hands and then would slam one hand down into the carpet. I asked him what this move was because it looked much like Iron Man when he lands from a flight. He simply said it was just a little something he has been working on. I left it at that. He then got kind of crazy and almost did a math problem, but came to his senses and quit before finishing it. Then there was an additional encore opera performance directly followed by some minor foot surgery where he peeled his shoe and dirty sock off in order to dig at a sliver between his toes.”
Does this sound familiar to anyone? If you have been a teacher for any amount of time you probably have experienced a student like the one described above. These types of students can suck the life out of you on a daily basis. Then if you have the good fortune of 2 or 3 or 4 of these students in your class at one time-Yea Haaaaa!!!
Where do you begin when this is the student you have been dealt to teach? A student that is bright, but eccentric. Doesn’t qualify for additional services, but doesn’t fit the traditional norm of the classroom. Truly marches to their own drum regardless of the rules of the environment around them. It may sound crazy, but you cannot worry about academics at this point. You must start where you do with any student…the relationship. Make it a point to talk to this student every single day about anything other than school. For this example, talk to them about the move they were doing in class. How did he get the sliver? Ask them what they like to do. Slowly begin to peel through the layers to see the good in the student.
Do not think that this is the green light to not hold them accountable. They must still be taught and held to the rules of the classroom. When they disrupt the education for the other students, remove them from the environment briefly, seize the learning moment and allow them to begin again at a later time. Maybe that is later in the class, maybe it is the next day.
These students are complex and bring challenges that cannot be conquered quickly. It takes time, dedication, patience and a whole lot of grit to get the job done. But you can do it and you will do it because you are a special, highly-skilled professional. Its what you do. Its what you do BEST!
If you have children you are probably beginning to get a little tired of the most recent Disney hit “Frozen”. Even if you do not have children, I am sure you have listened to the hit song from the movie called “Let It Go” at least a couple dozen times. This song can be somewhat of a theme for those of us that deal with students.
A key piece of information that many veteran teachers know (and the new ones learn real quick) is that kids are going to push your buttons. It is inevitable. Now sometimes it may be more often than others and you may even go through long stretches where you think teaching is a piece of cake. But it is a guarantee that eventually they will push you to your limit. It may the constant behavior that takes you away from your teaching and their learning. It may be something they say that is disrespectful. Or maybe worst of all, they do something that just plain hurts your feelings.
At moments like these I am sure you handle the situation with professionalism and in accordance to your school’s Student Code of Conduct. These policies and procedures are followed and life goes on. But many times inside you, it isn’t that easy. You may have a flood of emotions such as anger, sadness or even self doubt. It is vital at moments such as these, that you do just as the song says “Let It Go”.
You have to let it go and most importantly DO NOT HOLD A GRUDGE! Remember, they are kids. They know not what they do. They view many of their teachers as anything but human. You are a version of a person they see have reactions, but they rarely ever think about what is inside you. They are only aware of the hard shell, not the soft center. If you keep these feelings fresh, it will only cause harm to yourself. Prior to any dealings with students, just know they are going to make mistakes, they are going to push your buttons, they are going to drive to levels of emotions you did not know you had. But if you choose to let it go, if you choose to stay calm, if you choose to be happy then you can flourish in this profession. You will start to see more and more good and less and less bad.
Truly kids are really cool people. They just aren’t a complete package yet and their flaws will come out in various and unpredictable ways. That is what we are their for. To help them deal with these flaws and to hopefully turn them into strong adults.
REDLINE means to drive with (a car engine) at or above its rated maximum rpm. Basically, the engine cannot go or work any faster. Many vehicles have an rpm gauge and the top or maximum part of the gauge will even be marked in red. If educators had an rpm gauge on their chest, I am quite confident that many of them would be in the red area. If they weren’t there at that particular point, you can bet that at some time during the school day they would spend some time in the red.
An engine that redline’s too much doesn’t usually last as long. The engine will wear out quicker and begin to labor even when you are not pushing it beyond the limits. Routine speeds and terrain become more difficult for the engine. This same affect can happen to educators. Soon routine tasks become more tiresome. Student behaviors can become more taxing. New curriculum’s and guidelines can appear overwhelming.
To the outside world, I am sure at times we can appear to be difficult or viewed as whiners. But if the engine is already operating at a maximum level and more is being asked, what do you do? Now I am not saying we should whine and complain. We need to push through and maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude will take all of us much farther and allow us to handle difficult situations with much more professionalism than whining and complaining. Being positive and being happy are choices. If you smile and tell your self to think positively, soon you will actually be happy and positive. It is a little trick many people have mastered and all you have to do to master it is to do it.
It is also vital that we take care of ourselves. Even if you have to actually schedule it, take some time to relax and recharge. Rest and cool your engines. Put your body into idle mode. Figure out what your favorite thing to do is and be sure you do it regularly. Whether that is a little each day, weekly or longer. Just be sure you have it on your radar so you have something to look forward to. When you have something exciting in your future, it will make the hard work that much better.
Educators are great people. They have skills and abilities only other educators can truly appreciate. But we can also be our own worst enemies. Redlining too much will not be beneficial for anyone in the long run. We exist for the students. If we push too hard and do not take care of ourselves, then the students don’t get the best we can be. So let up on the accelerator, put the car in park, turn off the key and live to race another day.