I talked last week about how expectations can be good or bad. But you shouldn’t let expectations define yourself or how you see people. This post is related to that in a sense. But it’s also not. I know that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
A big thing I am learning is that while the expectations you set turn into your definitions of people, it is still important to be prepared for anything. This is a constant thing for me. And I don’t mean in the form of what you’re teaching. I mean in the form of literally anything could happen.
Please don’t misunderstand. I truly love my 7th graders. They challenge me and I do my best to encourage them. But truly, there are so many things that have happened in my class that I could never have prepared for. Even while we have transitioned to this hybrid model, I am just continually blown away.
Without going into too much detail, I want to give you examples of some of these things that have happened. I have had students who don’t have their schedule and ask me where they are supposed to go. I ask them if they know who the teacher is or the room number and they say no. I should also mention that these are not the students I teach so I literally have no idea who they are. I had a student this morning ask me that (I actually have him), and as I was pulling up his schedule, he goes, “I knew I could trust you.” Some of my English Language Learner (ELL) students have taken to asking their question online on Google Translate, calling me over, and showing me their laptop. One of those questions asked if they could make a TikTok (yes, in class). I have had conversations with my students including anything from anime to serial killers. We talk about history, and I hope they’re learning.
Teaching is everything I expected and so much more (there’s that expectations again). I love what I do, and my 7th graders make it all the more enjoyable because of who they are. But because they’re 7th graders, I have to prepare for anything. And the way I do that is to prepare for nothing. This is where this relates to that expectations topic. By having no or very low expectations, I can be more prepared for what my students throw at me. And truthfully, they respond to it. I have some issues and definitely some classroom management stuff I need, but for the most part, I let my kids run the classroom. Sometimes that leads to related conversations. Sometimes that leads to us working through things together. I keep my expectations high for the work and what I expect my kids to do. But they like me and seem to respond well. I have kids for a homeroom and on Tuesdays we do a weekly check-in of how their life is going for them. Included in this is one class that’s going good and one that is a challenge. And it may be that my students are sucking up, but none of them say that social studies is a challenge for them.
I had no idea what teaching would bring, and I know many of my readers aren’t teachers. Sometimes life throws you curveballs. Over time, I have learned to do my best to flow with life. I don’t always succeed. But if you’re able to flow, you’ll respond to things better. If you overplan and overprepare, the you’re actually going to be more resistant if something happens, at least in my experience. I do better, and I feel other people do as well, when they are open to what happens. I am a creature of habit and a planner, so this isn’t easy for me. But I’m learning as I’m teaching that the only thing I can plan for is the content. You can make a plan of action, but things and people aren’t going to respond the way you always expect them to.
I still have ambitions and goals, but I am a lot more open about them than I used to be. I know the destination I want to reach, and I have a general idea of how I want to get there, but the details are still a little fuzzy. And that’s okay! I want to be in shape, and I’ll get there. But I’m okay if I have off days or don’t make it to the gym all the time. I want to be a more effective teacher and meet my goal, but I’m still only taking it one week or day at a time. I want to pay off my car as quickly as possible, but I’m also putting money into savings and have money to spend. I’m chasing after my goals and going after what I want, but I’m not on a hard, straight path to get there. I was one of the last of my classmates to get a placement for student teaching, and I think I was one of the first to get offered a job. Life throws curveballs. Be flexible and prepared, but be open to change. I find you’ll do a lot better in life that way.