Take Care of Yourself: Take Care Of Your Ego:
You need to take care of yourself. Last week we talked about taking care of your body. Good nutrition is important, but once you’ve got that nailed down, there’s more to your health than just your body. Get up from your computer and go look in the mirror. Chances are you’re not impressed. Few people are. You’re different, whether you realize it or not, and you should be impressed. If you’re not taking care of your ego, your confidence, you cannot expect to give that confidence to your students. You’re not here to make them think you’re all that, you’re here to show them they can accomplish their goals. Unfortunately, before you can show them that about themselves, you need to believe it first.
Whether you are a teacher, or a student, you need to take care of yourself. If you’re not confident in yourself, you won’t find success in what you do.
Here are a couple quotes about teachers:
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach” ~Woody Allen
“It is a miracle that curiosity survives education” ~Albert Einstein
That’s straight-up bullshit
Everyone has an idea about how you can be a better teacher, and society is the first to point fingers when it comes to failing grades in schools. I’m not going to lie, all teachers aren’t top notch, but if you’re here, you’re probably not one of them. You’re not a scourge on society, you’re a leader. You’re the cream of the crop, it’s all a matter of perspective.
There are a hundred reasons why you could be down in the dumps. Let’s start with the students:
Kindergartners: The huggable, lovable, crying balls of thunder
Not all students are the same. Each group of students has their strengths and weaknesses. Young children, for example, can be a joy, a delight, and the nightmare that keeps you up at night.
Oh, those three traits are from the same kid…
If you are going to take care of this little bundle of joy, you need to take care of yourself.
You see, if you have the training and the right mindset, they can be the reason you wake up in the morning. I have had several close friends who teach kindergarten, and they love it, but it is still draining. Kids don’t always listen, and that can be frustrating. But that’s just the beginning. You have to deal with parents, who believe their child is the hope for humanity. There’s the leadership, who are convinced they know everything that’s going on in your classroom, but have never actually been there. There’s your friends who don’t teach, who can’t even imagine what’s going on… I’ve been there, it’s rough.
If you’re a kindergarten teacher: You’re a magician, you’re a tower of awesome, you kick ass on a daily basis and come back for more every day. You teach because you’re not interested in what you can do. You teach because you want to build a future generation.
Highschoolers: Trying to figure out what’s what
High school is a mess for everyone. Your students are learning how to be adults, trying to prepare for college, and experiencing new and different things every other day. There’s a hundred different things demanding their attention, and somehow as a teacher you need to overcome all of them.
In my experience, Teaching highschool is one of the most intense ages to teach. They don’t know who they are, so it’s a good chance they’ll never tell you anything helpful. They don’t know what they are capable of, so they can’t give you any real feedback. This means keeping your confidence up is all about you. Most of them won’t look like they’re paying attention, but you can still reach them. Many won’t act like they’re learning anything, but even the little that seems to get in is a success. If you’re going to take care of them, you need to take care of yourself. Because you’re going to build their confidence, you need to guard yours.
If you’re a high school teacher, this isn’t a passive position. You’re on the front lines of a battle for the kids’ attention, or maybe even emotional stability. Your job is to instruct, guide, and shape your students. This is a taxing position to be in, but if you have it in you, you can be great. Gather friends around you who can support you on your bad days, and get a hobby. You’re going to spend your time working hard for what seems like almost no progress. Your hobby is a release to that pressure. Mine is carpentry, I love to build things. At the end of the day, it’s nice to have something I can hold in my hands. Find a hobby that you can see your progress in, so you can focus on your students. If you’re meant to be a high school teacher, then embrace it, but don’t forget your boots.
Teaching Adults: It’s not language, it’s possibilities
Teaching adults takes a special kind of person, not unlike the others. The advantages to teaching adults is that you are dealing with peers. The major disadvantage is that you’re working with peers…
Whether you’re working with college age students, or working adults, you have an interesting job on your hands.
If you’re not professional, they won’t take you seriously
When you’re not interesting, they don’t have to pay attention to you
If you’re not knowledgeable, they can’t afford to waste time on you.
Those are the stakes, and you are more than capable of dealing with them. My personal favorite classes to teach are the adults. They ask great questions, and they learn fairly quickly. The themes of classes can be real world experiences, or your favorite books. I’ve found ways to incorporate movies and TV shows into my lessons, and still have it be a quality lesson. My adult students have been curious about culture and history as well. Those are my favorite classes. Adult classes are intense, and if you don’t feel comfortable in kindergartens or high schools, grab an adult class and change the world!
The world looks down on teachers. Society makes jokes about being able to take the summer off, and not being able to get a real job. Don’t buy that! Even on the days when you feel like your students learned a damn thing, you are changing the world a little at a time. Take a deep breath, remember that you are awesome. You came in to teaching to change the world, and every time you walk into class, you’re doing just that. Go forth, and be awesome! Take care of yourself and your confidence, then share that confidence with the world.