I’ve talked before on how I treat every day at my job as if it were a new day. but I wanted to take today and expound upon that even more.
As I am on this journey to be a competent and actually good teacher, I learn a lot about my classroom and even more about myself. One of the things I am most grateful for being taught while I was still learning how to be a teacher is that you treat every single day as if it’s a new one. Specifically in the district that I teach, you have to continue to give chances. Even on days when it’s hard. ESPECIALLY on days when it’s hard. This is a lesson that I use every single day.
I’ve also talked before about how I don’t take work home. This is one of the things I am most proud of at my job. I am never grading or planning on the weekends. I never have to go into my classroom at off hours. I’m not trying to shame anyone else who does this, but it makes me feel so good. Once I close the blinds and turn off the lights to my room, then my work stays at work.
However, even though work itself stays at work, that doesn’t always mean that the events of the day stay at work. There are days where I come home and I sob. I know the district I work in. I know what I signed up for. But even still, there are days that I am just hurt or worn out. And it’s hard. It’s really hard. In the worst cases, I have to take a day off just to reset myself and be okay. But that hardly ever happens. More often, it’s I feel miserable and upset, but then I’m able to work through it, and I can get up and do it all again the next day.
With the district that I work in, it is so important to give these kids chances. A lot of times, they come from painful, traumatic, and/or broken homes. Sometimes, a teacher is the only positive interaction they get all day long. Imagine if a student came in and I didn’t give them a chance. I could easily crush a student’s spirit. And I’m not sure I could live with myself if I did.
That lesson seems exceptionally important this year. There are days when my students are on top of things and doing wonderful. Then the very next day, they’re acting out and being problems. The problem days suck. I report what I need to, call home occasionally, and then leave to cry about it. But I get up and I greet them and give a fresh chance.
While I have hundreds, if not thousands of examples of this policy, let me give one of the most recent examples. Right before Thanksgiving break, a number of students disrupted classes all down the hallway by screaming in the bathroom for no reason. They came out giggling, so I wrote up the one that was mine and sent an email for the other two (I can only write up students I have in class). I ended up talking to the parent and everything else. Well, just the other day, some of the boys screamed again when I was around as they were walking down the stairs. But my student came around the corner after the other boys had already left. He looked at me and said, “hey you saw it wasn’t me.” I agreed with him and sent him on to lunch, no report needed.
It makes me both a better teacher and a better person to give chances. And while I only mention teaching, this can be applied to other areas as well. This also doesn’t mean to let people walk all over you. You need to set boundaries. It’s a fine line for sure, and this post is not about the difference. But each day is new, and grace and compassion should always be available when needed.