This post was created as part of Twinkls worldwide teacher wellbeing campaign, TeacherTruths. Head over to their Year of Wellbeing page to read others' stories and find out how you can have your say.
TeacherTruths: Supporting teacher wellbeing, one conversation at a time
After years of teaching, and I can almost guarantee that at least one night a week I come home and ask myself am I even a good teacher? What did I actually teach the kids today? Have my kids even progressed? Should I quit teaching?
Now surely I can’t be the only teacher in the world who has moments like this. Moments of absolute defeat that make you just want to cry and give up the job that you know you love and would be lost without? Surely if I am feeling this there will be others who do and new teachers starting out wondering if these feeling are normal! Well I’m here to say YES they are!
So I want to tell you the things that I think you need to know and remember as a new, future or present teacher. These are the things I wish someone had told me and that I need to remind myself on a constant basis. These are the feelings that you need to know it's ok to have.
You will cry
You will cry because you think you are a horrible teacher, because a student has the saddest life and you can’t fix it, because another staff member was kind of mean, or simply because every lesson you taught went wrong. Its ok to cry and let it out. But afterwards take a deep breathe, so something for you- take a walk, have a bath, cuddle your loved ones. Tomorrow is a new day!
All your lessons won't be perfect!
There’s nothing more devastating then planning what you think is an amazing lesson and then watch it crumble and explode as you teach it. This will happen often in the start and then it will progressively happen less, but it will always happen! Never be afraid to say this isn’t working and change it up mid lesson!
Never be afraid to say ok I’m going to make changes to that horrible lesson and try that again tomorrow. Some of my best lessons have been repeats that went shocking the first time!
How emotionally invested in your students you will become
You can never be prepared for the impact your students will have on you. You will love and remember those little faces long after they have forgotten yours. You will spend 6 hours a day with these kids for close to 200 days a year. You will feel proud of them, disappointed in them, you will wipe away their tears, share their laughter, hear their stories and guide them to be the unique individuals they are.
You wont like all your students.
As teachers we think we often have to like every student all the time, but we don’t. You wont connect with every child you teach, how could you? You’re only human! We are all individuals and some people’s personalities just don’t mix.
What you will do is respect them for their differences and appreciate them for these. Yes you might complain about them with a fellow staff member and then feel guilty about it! But in the end you are not going to stop that child from learning and your going to give them the same opportunities as the rest of the class. You just wont miss them as much when then move on to the next year level.
They won't all like you
This one can be heartbreaking as you try so hard to get them on your side. You give them extra praise, a bit of extra attention, but in the end it doesn’t matter they just don’t like you and that’s ok! They’re human and just like you they wont like everyone. You will treat them the same as the others and just have to suck it up. After all your not there to be their friend, you’re there to teach.
Occasionally your students will drive you insane.
Your blood will boil, you will raise your voice and there will be days when they just don’t listen to you. They couldn’t care less who you are or what you want them to do. Don’t take it personally -kids have so much energy, shorter attention spans and kids are just downright crazy!
Not all your students will reach benchmark.
This is tough, as we naturally want to make sure all our students succeed. It’s just not possible; some students will never be at the same level, as their peers! However, they will improve and succeed in a way that is amazing for them! Don’t judge your students based on what the expected level for their age is. Praise them for where they are at and what they can do, those achievements are sometimes far more rewarding!
Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.
When a student who came into your classroom came at the start of grade 2 reading at a level 2 and is now at the end is reading at a level 22 celebrate! This happened to me, and the student and I jumped up and down we ran into the next-door classroom and told that teacher. We told every teacher we saw that day. We ran up to his parents and told them! Boy did we celebrate! These achievements are what make you want to do this. These achievements make all the crappy days you have totally worth it!
It’s ok to ask for help.
I still struggle with this one- I want to be super-teacher. The teacher we see who is in full control, organised to the extreme, has perfect behaviour management skills, takes on extra duties and still has time to have a life outside school.
The truth is that teacher doesn’t exist! We are all struggling in our own little cycle of not asking for help. So please ask for help, others want to help you- it makes them look like the elusive super teacher (at least for a moment).
Stop comparing yourself to other teachers.
You have your style, your way of teaching that makes you unique. If your students are learning to the best of their ability then what makes you any less of a teacher than other staff members? There is always going to be someone better but you are always going to be striving to improve. Be the best you can be!
Teaching is amazing.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It gives me more joy than I realise. I often feel down and question myself as a teacher but walking into that classroom every morning and having those beautiful, crazy kids run up and say good morning and start telling me a thousand different stories at the same time truly puts a smile on my face. Their silly little jokes and those cheeky, challenging ones that always have a special spot in your heart make me just feel so happy.
I shouldn't doubt whether or not I am a good teacher, my students tell me everyday that I am. They tell me by their smiles as they walk in the door, by asking what are we learning today, by saying ‘yes’ when I say its reading time or maths time, by saying learning is fun and by saying thanks for a great day Miss Keating when they leave. They tell me everyday when they trust me with their deepest secrets, their worries, their dreams and future goals. Their parents tell me when they say they their child loves coming to school now and they never did before. My fellow teachers tell me when they say I love your room or what an amazing activity I’ll have to steal that.
So with all these people telling me these positive things I guess its time that I to say to myself I am a good teacher.
And so are you- don’t forget to tell yourself it more often!
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