Teaching: my thoughts on this day

As a person who holds the profession in esteem, I constantly question if I am “good enough” to teach. It’s such a unique career, and I think a lot about what my students need from me, and the truth is I can’t be everything to everyone.

Some days I think my students really need a teacher who knows they care about them on a personal level, to develop relationships with my students that will help them get through the day, get through high school. I have students who pop in and they just need me to see them, to support them in that small way, maybe even just make them feel like they belong somewhere in the building for a minute or two.

Other days, I think they need a teacher who will provide rigor and challenges. Some days I know they need a break, and some time to just be kids. I try to provide a balance and I strive to create engaging content and assignments. It kind of feels like feeding a ravenous beast with an insatiable appetite. They come into my classroom each day and, rightfully so, expect to be taught something, to do something interesting. (I’m under no delusion that all students find my class interesting, at the very least, they expect to have their time occupied.)

I have freshmen and they range in maturity, interest levels in the curriculum (or in school period), attention, quickness in work… they’re people and so of course they’re all different. Differentiation is a nice thought, but I have yet to meet a teacher who is able to plan 3 different lessons for each class period.

It’s challenging for me to see – or believe I see – what they each need and at least try to meet their needs… all while lesson planning, grading, running a yearbook staff, etc.. I think you almost need a degree of separation, to hide your heart a little bit, and to shelter yourself from the constant needs of students, just to make it through the week. But, I have a really hard time dong that.

I have students who I worry about because they’re crying or suffering anxiety, depression, or poor self-esteem. I wonder what kind of relationships they have outside of school.

There are students who I see developing a positive relationship with peers and with me as their teacher, and I love those moments. Those moments where I see students growing and becoming stronger, healthier, and feeling good about it. I love when there is the right culture going in a class. When we have hit the sweet spot: the kids are engaged, there’s just a touch of humor in play, the kids are respectful and know their boundaries. Those moments are awesome. And if that’s what teaching was for 8 hours a day I would be on Cloud 9, feeling like I just won the Super Bowl everyday. But then there are those other class periods.

Where kids are so disrespectful and rude. This is what I have a serious problem with. It is incredibly difficult to deal with adolescents who are testing their boundaries, pushing the limits, and they’re doing it in a negative way. I try to withhold energy from them, but that is extremely difficult to do when they’re being disruptive. Those classes make me think perhaps I am not cut out for this job. Those classes test me every single day. (Okay, its not even those classes – it’s one class I have this semester. But it seems like there’s always one in every semester!)

Sending kids to detention. Why do I have such a problem with writing kids up? I think I hold them to a level of maturity that I want for them, but that they don’t have yet. When I send a kid to go get “punished,” then I feel like they aren’t coming to the realization that what they’re doing is wrong and they’re missing that opportunity to grow. When a student can come to that realization themselves and self-correct, that’s what I aim for and like to see. When that doesn’t happen, I really struggle.

I don’t like having to interrupt the lesson at hand to focus on disciplining one student. I also think if I send them to the office, a lot of times that doesn’t correct the behavior, and what am I going to do? Send them to the office every single day? So it’s a really helpless feeling and it isn’t fair to the student, myself, or the rest of the class.

If this kid were an employee of mine, they’d be long ago fired. If they were a friend, they’d be long ago forgotten. But that’s the thing, when you’re a teacher, you’re just kind of stuck with the kids, all of them: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Now I know you oughtn’t to stick kids into buckets with labels, and trust me I’d love for them to level up, but sometimes, they just keep breaking your heart.

So in a day, I just run through so many different emotions, and like I said, I respect the profession. I respect all  of my students’ time. I feel like there’s too much at stake. Maybe I take my job too seriously. Maybe I’m making myself way too available to my students. I am not sure if I can change that… that might be an essential part of my personality. I can work on it, though.

So this was my first pretty emo post. Ha ha. Send happy vibes my way if you feel so inclined. I’ll be back at it tomorrow! Thanks for reading.

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