I sent this email to the staff at my school after a conversation with another teacher. It has been a tough year for many of us with larger classes, new curricula, and new students that can’t quite get it together (yet) with behavior. Despite those things, we have a responsibility to ensure we’re always mindful of how we perceive and interact with children. It’s tough…we’re human…and they are too! They’re just smaller versions that require special care.
Have you ever screwed up and needed to have a difficult conversation with your principal or boss? Have you ever said or done something to upset your spouse or significant other? In each of those instances, we’ve appreciated the opportunity to try again without those previous mistakes being held against us. The same holds true for our interactions with children who make mistakes. Each day must be seen as a new opportunity for them to try again in an area where they may have failed. For some of our students, those behavior failures are more frequent than we’d like to see. However, we must see the start of their school day/class session as a new opportunity to try again. When we fail to give children who struggle with behavior opportunities to start their day without pre-judgement, the dislike we have concerning their behavior can slowly become dislike concerning the child. Those things (behavior/child) must be seen as separate entities – for your sanity as a teacher, and for the well-being of our students.
Although it can be difficult, we have to see behavioral challenges with students in the same manner that we see academic challenges. We’re continually creative, diligent, compassionate, and collaborative when a child simply doesn’t get it with reading or math. Many times, we see and accept those difficulties as challenges where we get opportunities to test our skills as teachers. We don’t give up. We do it because we see the potential of children. We recognize that of our role in helping children succeed academically is an essential element in their journey to become productive citizens.
We must do the same with children who “don’t get it” with behavior.
Most of us agree that this has been a tough start to a new school year, and we’re wondering if it’ll improve anytime soon. Heck, it needs to improve or I’m changing my profession! That’s a joke. Nevertheless, take a deep breath. Allow the child to have a reset, and know that things will eventually improve for all of our children — especially the ones where the negative traits you see are beginning to outnumber the positive.