Well the train has left the station, the teachers and students are on board. It will take about eight months before we reach our destination.
All who are new to the classroom have figured out what the old-timers have long known. Teaching is a stressful and demanding occupation. Getting a class of kids to follow you down the road of knowledge is like herding geese. They are bounding with energy while your energy supply is running low. Your main goal is to instruct them in the assigned material; theirs is to have fun. While you are working hard to teach them, some of them will be working just as hard not to learn and even to keep you from teaching the others. The students go home after class; you go home and work on the next day’s materials, evaluating their progress, etc. This is the stuff of which headaches – and discouragement – are made.
There is, however, a remedy for survival.
- Make every effort to avoid the last-minute rush in preparing for your classes.
- Do your best to get a good night’s rest before each school day.
- Begin each day with a positive attitude. Assume that each day will be a good and productive day. Observers of human behavior have discovered that in life, we tend to find that for which we are looking. If you arrive to the classroom fully expecting a horrible day, you will likely find it. On the other hand if you enter the classroom with a smile, fully expecting to have a good day, there is a good chance you will find that.
- Practice being happy. Smiles and happiness tend to elicit smiles and happiness from others. But so do frowns and grouchiness. You can establish the climate for your classroom with a happy, winsome attitude.
- If at all possible, use your break and your lunch time to clear your mind of the clutter of the classroom. Visit with a friend, talk about something pleasant other than your challenging class.
- When you have had a tough day at school, as you leave for home, leave the misery behind you. I know there will be some work to do after hours, but try to leave as much of it as possible. Don’t unload it on your family.
- Don’t be overly sensitive. There is a mean-streak in lots of kids that drives them to want to provoke their teachers. If you react strongly when they prod you, they will have a field day watching you react. Tune them out, smile at their impudence; don’t give them the
satisfaction of getting to you. Remind yourself that they are kids and kids do stupid things.
- Keep you cool and don’t lose your temper. Don’t allow your students to provoke you to tears. They don’t deserve that satisfaction. You are the adult in the classroom.
- Avoid being confrontational. Students know your limitations. They know all the restrictions under which you are forced to work. If you challenge them in a confrontational way, they can respond in kind with little or no consequence. Yet you may be called on the carpet.
- If you are religious, don’t hesitate to ask God to help you. Prayer may be forbidden in the classroom, but it isn’t forbidden before you get to school…or after a hard day in the classroom.
- After a rough day at school, a good soak in the tub or shower, a little time in quietness to rest your mind and body will tend to wash away much of the stress of the day and renew your spirit.
- When the going gets rough, talk to yourself. Let your conversation go something like this: “Shape up (John or Jane, etc.).You are an adult, you are well educated. You are fully capable of doing this job. You are not going to let a bunch of silly kids discourage or defeat you. Stand up straight, look them in the eye, and get on with the job that is yours!”
- One day, many of those same kids will look back and be grateful to you for the good job you did with them. That will be a nice reward.
John Waddey is a native of Tennessee and the father of four children. He is a public speaker, editor, and author of 37 books.