So, at my core I am a working-class raised Bostonian who doesn’t like to get caught up in all that new-age mumbo jumbo.
But as I’ve grown up and taken on more challenges, I’ve become more open to alternative ways of thinking and growing. At 22 years old, after a fairly rough college experience, I took on teaching special education in the inner city without ANY training or experience. If I’d just tried to “tough it out” without any self reflection or self care, I’d probably have run off into the woods years ago. But ALAS! I’ve survived. All this time. And here are a few of the sayings that I lean on when time gets tough in the classroom.
- Just take it one block at a time. Some class periods, known as blocks in my district, are just rough. And the reality is, there’s not a lot you can do to totally prevent all craziness from occurring in your classroom. I mean, classroom management helps, but it’s not 100%, especially in this age when kids are able to communicate 24/7. So sometimes, you just need to wait it out. wait until the end of that block, the end of that session, the end of that day, and remember that you get another chance so, so soon.
- Progress takes time. This one was so hard for me at first. As a special educator, I am constantly trying to help kids meet their individualized goals. And sometimes meeting those goals takes a while. As an instructor, slow progress can make you feel a bit panicy and inadequate. But there’s really no rushing life-long learning, so I have to remain patient.
- They’re just big babies. My students are all taller than me, and often try to behave like adults. But they are not. They are 15. They are babies. They still don’t do their own laundry. They still need to ask their mom to drive them to the movies. They still need a teacher who nurtures them and explains stuff that should be common sense to them without judgement.
- I was there once. I was also a know-it all, dramatic, immature little teen back in the day. There’s no reason for me to get worked up over “disrespect” that is really just immaturity. And it’s not okay for me to get worked up about immaturity when everyone is immature when they’re like, 14 and 15 years old.
- Be the person you needed when you were younger. This is my number one, guys. I say this to myself every day, and it has changed my entire life, no lie. When I first started teaching, I saw it as a series of boxes that needed to be checked. But really, it’s about needs that have to be met. For most students, they just need you to teach them the material and lead by example. Other kids, though…other kids need more support. I regularly provide snacks, and breaks, and a listening ear to my students. I work with my students when they make mistakes, and encourage them to ask for support when they need it. Because when I was a kid, I didn’t always have that. I went to really old-fashioned schools, and while I value the level of self-sufficiency I developed, I seriously wish that I’d encountered more thoughtful supports along the way. So I push myself to be aware, and creative, and open each and every day, so that I can meet the needs of every individual who steps into my classroom!
I hope you all have a fabulous Tuesday and Wednesday! I’ll be back on Thursday with a new book review post:)