As a teacher, you have the opportunity to be a superhero or a super villain. Most of us can remember a teacher who was influential in some way. That teacher who noticed a hidden talent or was encouraging when we needed to hear it the most. But, we also remember the villains. The teachers who called us out in front of everyone or who didn’t seem to care about their class. I had a teacher ruin reading for me in high school. Luckily, I was able to get past that, but it took years!
To all of the teachers out there: How does teaching feel to you, right now?
This is my 12th year teaching and it feels harder than when I started. We learn tricks every single year, we find strategies that work and others that fail and continue to tweak our teaching style. Unfortunately, the asks or education continue to be added to plate that is already heaping while juggling the effects of a global pandemic and social and emotional needs.
From one of our wonderful reading teachers, I was gifted the book Teachers These Days by Jody Carrington and Laurie McIntosh. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a reminder of why we do what we do. I have highlighter all over my copy with little hearts and smiley faces. I laughed, I cried, I felt seen.
A few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“…a teacher’s greatest superpower has very little to do with pedagogy or practice. You know this. It’s kindness.”
“A 2018 study conducted with middle school students showed that when teachers started class by welcoming students at the door, academic engagement increased by 20 percent and disruptive behavior decreased by 9 percent.”
“Find ways to hand out compliments and affirmations like freaking candy. Don’t hold back. Don’t wait until it is too late. Normalize thanking learners and your colleagues for their hard work and showing gratitude for all they do. This reminds them that they matter to you.”
“…representations matters…If you’re in a position of privilege, building communities and resources where kids can see themselves in books, lessons, and faces in the crowd helps those brains regulate faster and learn better.”
“Never underestimate the power of having ‘at least one teacher who cared.'”
“Reconnect, rest, practice joy, and show gratitude.”
I could go on and on but instead I will encourage you to read this book. Being a superhero does not mean you do everything perfectly. We make mistakes all the time and it helps to build rapport by telling our students that we make mistakes as well. How do you want students to remember you? Will you be a superhero or a super villain?
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