Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let's Get Real!

As teachers, we view our students as more than just little sponges that are eager (usually) to learn and have fun. We know that we are more than deliverers of content, and we strive to teach, reach, and affect the entire, whole child. We believe that the saying is true:  that every child in our classroom means the world to someone.  They are someone's precious baby. Parents, community members, and other stakeholders are depending on us to not only teach these little ones, but to inspire them, protect them, mold them, discipline them, and often times, to perform miracles.  On most days we are on top of our game.  With the school year already here or quickly approaching, most teachers are filled with the same excitement as the kids.  Many have been spending weeks or their entire summer vacation preparing for a new school year, purchasing supplies and decorations, writing and rewriting lesson plans and units that will captivate and challenge.  Many decorate their classrooms with the same enthusiasm and care as if decorating for a party.

But let's get real. For others, this is far from their reality.


Teachers are professionals who do their absolute best to not let their foul moods or personal lives negatively affect their students or their teaching.  But let's get real.  For some teachers, they are returning to very hostile, negative, difficult teaching assignments.  Some have lost their enthusiasm for teaching for a myriad of reasons. Some have had their classrooms or teaching assignments changed without much warning.  Some are overwhelmed by having to learn new curricula that they are less than thrilled to teach.  Others are dealing with personal loss, family stresses, crises, divorce, or conflict and turmoil.  Many teachers are in chronic pain from physical or emotional illnesses.  New mothers are returning their classrooms with aching hearts as they leave their infant child with a caregiver.

But let's get real.  Teachers are troopers and they make the best of their situations.  They often find that school and teaching is an escape from their problems.  Students, with their winsome, silly, charming personalities remind us of why we do what we do.  Teachers are great at putting on their "teacher face" and putting their heart and soul into their students, classroom, teaching, and responsibilities.

As parents ourselves, we sometimes expect too much of our children's teachers.  If we are work-alcoholics, we may expect the teacher to be so.  We expect that they are going to provide a near-perfect year for our little one.  It's easy for even us to forget that they are one of us:  a teacher that is human.

This morning, my heart was heavy with thinking about those of you and those that I know that are getting ready to return to their classrooms with hurts, scars, battle wounds, and strife that is sucking the life out of them.  As a parent, I want to remember this all year long:  that every person has a story, every person has a struggle and perhaps an unknown suffering.  That behind the warm smile could be pain and lots of it.  I want to be a blessing to my sons' teachers whom we have not even met yet.  I want to edify them, encourage them, let them know that I appreciate them even if it is only with a simple thank you card or by giving grace when I see a flaw, a mistake, or imperfection.  

As for our colleagues, just a smile, a hug, or taking the time to give a sincere compliment, can make someone's day.  As I pass a coworker in the hallway, I want to slow down, and listen, really listen to the response I get when I ask, "How are you?".

I want to remember that teachers are people too.  I should know that because I am one of them.  But sometimes we get all caught up in our own drama, busy lives, and struggles, and we forget that others might be hurting just as much as we are. I want to be sensitive to that and keep that in mind when I am tempted to get frustrated, lose my patience, or have unrealistic expectations of another.

Let's get real.  And really mean it.

How do you encourage other teachers?  What is one positive thing you could do on the first day of school for another teacher or staff member?

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2 comments:

  1. Chocolate. Chocolate is always an encouragement. I had a coworker who kept a stash in her desk and was not surprised when the rest of us would troop to her classroom when we had a bad day, give her the look, and she would point to the stash. It made everything better.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, yes, how could I forget chocolate!!?? We had a co-worker who would randomly place a small piece of chocolate in our mailboxes! :-) Lauren

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