Teaching is exhausting: physically, mentally, AND emotionally. And that’s in a normal year!
When I’m feeling heavy or stressed emotionally, I sometimes receive unsolicited advice to just “leave work at the office” and “shut off when you go home at the end of the day”. This advice most often comes from people who work office jobs, and don’t have their hearts deeply intertwined with 300 others. But at the same time, we can see that teachers are dropping out of the system because the mental and emotional investments are just not sustainable. For those of us who stay, we probably can’t imagine doing anything else with our lives. I’m in my seventeenth year in the classroom, and in a very demanding context right now, but I continually work to find some sense of balance. After a few challenging weeks, here is my thought for the day:
The students who are most difficult to love are the ones who need it most. We all have some students like this, and giving them the love and patience they need will be incredibly rewarding for you, but more importantly could be life-changing for them. See them for what they bring to the classroom: energy rather than hyperactivity, curiosity rather than distraction. See their strengths–every student has them–and work from there. Find a way to encourage them, support them, believe in them; you may be the only one in their lives who does.
Your attitude is your choice. I am willing to bet that you’ve said this to a student. But sometimes we are so exhausted that we forget it ourselves! So try to find the positive spin on your challenges. Find the learning opportunities, and the support systems. Remember that children all want to learn, and they all want to be successful. (They may not define those things the same way you do, or in the context of your music class, but in the big picture, that’s what they all want.)
So repeat after me: I will choose to work with my students’ strengths. I will believe in my students and give them the love they need and deserve.See your students for what they bring to the classroom: energy rather than hyperactivity, curiosity rather than distraction. See their strengths, and work from there. Find a way to encourage them, support them, believe in them; you… Click To Tweet
Whatever you are going to take on, take it on with a positive attitude. If you can’t find the positive spin on it, then you need to choose to say “no” or find the motivation to change your attitude. Teaching is exhausting. But being a kid in school is too, especially if you aren’t a model student. Take care of yourself; there’s no question about that. But think about how you can take care of those kids who might need a little extra too.
What do you tell yourself when you are having a challenging moment with a challenging student?