Some days it’s hard to be a good teacher. Those are the days of challenges where you push through and keep your vision clear in your mind. You tell yourself that these kids are going to learn something, like it or not. That you can take on anything thrown at you by students, parents, administration. Bring it on! To get through these days, you can turn to Ning or Twitter or sit with your colleagues and compare notes. You can gather inspiration and move on.
Then there are the days where it’s hard to want to be a good teacher. When the email keeps piling in and the latest change, the change from the last change that you are just getting around to implementing, is announced. And the kid that you thought you were finally reaching tells you he hates the book you’re reading, hates the work you’re doing and, as a matter of fact, hates you. He has no plans of even trying the next activity…no matter what it is.
Those are the days you lose your vision.
I find when I start to lose sight of the goal, seeking out my colleagues, face to face or digitally, rarely helps. To hear their enthusiasm just points to my lack of it. Some teacher Twitters are actually appalled that anyone would ever, EVER let themselves admit that maybe some days, they just aren’t feeling it. If you feel that way, you should pack up and quit immediately.
I don’t think it’s a sign of a bad teacher, though. I think bad teachers are the ones who don’t admit they feel that way. They are the ones that bury it, who live with it, and eventually accept it. They become bitter and burnt out. They begin to believe that they, and only they, are the ones who know how to teach. They become masters of easy assignments because that’s all the kids can or want to do and brag that they never fail a kid because who cares if they pass or fail anyway. They give up.
Some days its hard to keep going. So you have to stop. You have to breathe. You have to disconnect from the students and let them be themselves. You need to take a day off from saving the world. Whether that means a real day off, or just a fun lesson in the midst of all the high level, intense, 21st Century, No Child Left Behind ones. Not a worksheet lesson, but one that will guarantee a laugh somehow.
The funny thing is, it’s never teachers who bring me out of the funk. It’s always a student. One who asks if we are going to repeat an activity that he loved or one who runs in to say she saw something on TV that reminded her of the book we read. One who makes me laugh or shares something new with me, because they connect with me. Sometimes only with me. The kids are the ones who most want me to succeed. It matters to them. They don’t care about data or tests or standards. They care about each other and they care about me. Even the ones who won’t admit it. So while they may never know I’m in a funk, they know how to bring me out of it.
Some days it’s hard to want to be a good teacher. But some days…it’s really easy.