Saying goodbye is one of the most difficult things I think we have to do in life. It is difficult to say goodbye to the things we cherish most. My career, and the lives I touch, has always been one of those things – it’s my passion.
Currently, I am finishing my last three days of a long-term in kindergarten. For the past few weeks I have been reminding myself that I will be moving on and their teacher will be coming back. It’s been difficult for me to think that in a few days time I will not be the one taking care of them - watching them grow.
Although, I think the most difficult day was yesterday. One of my students came to me and said today was his last day. Me, being my usual positive self, I shared how exciting moving can be, it means meeting new friends and going to a new school. By the look on his face, he wasn’t buying it. So I asked him how he felt about moving he replied with bad. I said, “Will you miss me?” He said he would. I shared with him that I would too.
However, I also loving shared that all he has to do is think of me and know that I am thinking of him too. We will never be far away…all he has to do is wish me well and know that I am doing the same to him.
Tears still well up in my eyes thinking of that conversation.
My daily goal is to talk to all of my students individually. Not to give them a direction or to help them on an assignment but to actually make some kind of meaningful conversation. Whether it is about their outfit or how they did such great thinking – something that singles them out as an individual and let them know I care. I think we forget that we are in this for more than a paycheck or data points – we are in this for the betterment of humanity. It is because of that time I spend with my kids, building relationships with them, that they trust me and try their best. And when it’s time to say goodbye, it makes it all the harder.
But if saying goodbye means I touched someone’s life, then it’s worth every emotion.
Have you ever had that difficult student? That one who is constantly on your radar? You cannot let him/her out of your sight for a second because when you do, everything falls apart. Maybe it’s been a whole classroom that has been difficult.
Either way, I know you know exactly what I am talking about. I have talked with teachers all over my area here in Michigan and have found that everyone has those students. Everyone is struggling and no one knows what to do.
Through a divinely guided path, I came across Conscious Discipline. So far, I have read 100 pages of Dr. Becky Bailey’s book. It may not seem like a lot but it has given me so much to think about and also confirmed so much of what I believe as an educator. However, there is only one point I want to share with you today and that is the concept of “Quit Taking it Personally.”
As educators, I believe, most are very critical on themselves. They have students in their classrooms that have behavior issues and they take it personally. Like it is their fault for the problems of the student (or students). However, that just isn’t always the case. Our students come to us with 5 to 17 years of other experiences. 5 to 17 years of other people guiding them in their life. Those past experiences have helped shape them into who they are when they walk into your room.
I’ve been that teacher. I have wanted to “fix” things for my students. I would try anything to help them be different. I would research for hours on end, fight their case to my administration and adjust anything I needed to in my classroom to help them. But unfortunately, it just was not enough. I took it all personally like I couldn’t do my job because I was not seeing any changes.
What I know now, which I chose to ignore before, is my job is to provide the best education for them in any way I can. The rest - it’s up to them. Will I still fight for them? Yes. Will I still adjust everything I can? Yes. That is my job. My job is too create an environment where they can learn and grow. If they do not grow today, I hope that they will one day. Because in reality, have you ever met someone who changed over night? Sometimes it takes people years to change, not just a few months.
So recently, my focus has been to not take it personally. It’s not about me. I’m doing everything in my power to help them.
To remind myself of to not take it personally, I created a poster. I tried to find Dr. Becky Bailey’s but was unsuccessful. So I made my own. All credit goes to her in the wording, all I did was typed it, printed it and hung it in my room.
My hope is that you find the statement to be as powerful as I did. Hang it in your classroom as a reminder that it’s not about you. Quit taking it personally. Your job is to model to them the kind of person they can be and make a difference in lives – in any way that you can.
Have you ever had a student that pushes your buttons? That ignores your requests to be a listener? To be quiet when someone is talking?
That can be extremely frustrating as a teacher. In your mind, you might be thinking that they are being defiant. Or that they are a bad.
But what if it was not that at all?
The thought occurred to me one afternoon at dismissal. It is usually loud and busy at that time of day anyways. But one particular afternoon I heard crayons being pushed around in the bin. Instantly, I begin looking for the source of the sound only to meet the eyes of a blonde haired little boy smiling. As I looked into those eyes, I realized he was looking for me to look at him. To say his name - to notice him.
The next day, he and I sat down and I told him that I wanted to hear what he had to say. I wanted to get to know him. His voice did matter in our classroom – to me. During that time, I also talked about ways he could get my attention in a positive way.
After that conversation, things shifted.
When you have a student who is pushing buttons – do you look beyond the behavior and ask why? I had read many books on it, but I always felt confined to making my students behave that I could never get to the root of the behaviors.
Digging deeper, finding out the why of the behavior answers the missing questions as to what we can do to help a student. If we are only addressing the behavior at the surface, we will never find out what that student needs.
Next time a student is disruptive or has behavioral challenges, look beyond the behavior and find out what the student needs.
When I got my first teaching job, I was so excited. I was just a reading interventionist for kindergarten, but to me it was just as good as a teaching job. Why? Because I would be there to help students learn. That was why I went to school for 5 years to be a teacher. But after my first day of touring the school and meeting the principal, my attitude changed.
That first day I was sharing my excitement for finding new ideas for the kids and the response I got back was, “We already have ideas. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.”
Last winter I was volunteering in the building where I went to kindergarten and first grade. I have been there many days but one day in particular I began reflecting on my experiences there as a student. The teachers I had are retired now but the memories that I have of them live on forever in my mind.
Kindergarten, from what I remember, was great. First grade – eh. Apparently my first grade teacher liked me but I was less than thrilled with her.
We come into this world programmed to love everyone unconditionally - to not judge others or ourselves. Yet, as we move through the world we began to put conditions on things and judge. It’s easy to look at someone else’s life and think, “How do they have it all? When will it be my turn?” When in reality, you do not know their life – you do not know what they are going through or where they have been.