- We've all been happy when certain students are absent.
- We've all wished for extra snow and ice to cause a snow day.
- We’ve all tried to sneak snacks or drinks without students seeing us.
- We’ve all faked genuine interest while receiving terrible admin feedback.
- We’ve all failed to be the “grown-up” in an argument with a student.
- We’ve all played a little fast and loose with our sick days.
- We’ve all shown a movie or made students do something silently because we needed a break.
- We’ve all realized something really embarrassing way too late.
- We’ve all been secretly furious when asked to do icebreakers at staff meetings.
- We’ve all had favorite students we like just a little bit more than the others.
- We’ve all stolen (or at least thought about stealing) that drink or snack from the faculty fridge.
- We’ve all had that one colleague whose drama is just too much.
- We’ve all regretted something we’ve said to our students.
- We’ve all secretly wondered what other jobs we could do with a teaching degree.
- We’ve all secretly giggled at anyone who doesn’t have a job as awesome as ours.
Mathis explained, for the last item, “Wait. Your job doesn’t make you laugh, cry, jump up and down with joy, pull your hair out, sadder and happier than you’ve ever been? You don’t absolutely know for sure that you’re making a real difference every day? Wow, that’s … weird.” That's a lovely sentiment.
I wonder what I would come up with. It won't be easy.
THINGS TEACHERS SECRETLY DO BUT Should Honestly Admit
- We've all used the phrase, "I'm just a teacher." It just slips out. We're in a group of people, meeting new people who are introducing themselves and identifying themselves by their professions. That's when an educator says it: "I'm just a teacher." Why? Why do we describe ourselves as just a teacher? Should we not rather stand proudly and announce, "I am an educator. I save the world every day."
- We've all complained parents are the problem. It's easy to do. When we can't find a solution, or none of our magic words seem to work, we look for a scapegoat, someone to blame. The natural thing to do is to blame the other folks who should have the most contact time with our students. In some cases, the parents may actually be the issue, but that doesn't move us forward from our current location.
- We've all reduced boys and girls to data points. That's what happens when educators focus too much on the numbers, with standardized testing in mind. It's not to say that numbers and tracking improvement are not important, but it loses its validity when a teacher spends more time with a data wall than in maintaining true relationships with students.
- We've all neglected our own families for the sake of lesson planning and grading. There is a time when work ends and life begins. As much as we are affecting the world one student at a time, we must always remember to focus on our own relaxation and families when we go home. It's important to understand that. Our own families must not be put on the back burner.
- We've all lost sleep over a student. There is always that student who presents an ongoing challenge. Whether that student is a discipline problem, a social train wreck, or has physical disabilities, we want to solve his problems. We repeat scenarios over and over in our minds to see if we can correct the issues.
- We've all thrown away student papers. Sometimes an assignment doesn't go the way we planned or doesn't reflect the results we expected. We blame ourselves as we quietly "get rid of the evidence".
- We've all accepted questionable gifts from students who couldn't afford more. That old used Magic Eight Ball still means something to me. That plastic basket of broken toys and figurines meant something to that kid; that's why she gave it to me. I should feel honored by the sentiment.
- We've all cried on the last day of school. And that's OK. When we cry with students on the last day, it means the year has meant something to us. That group hug that knocks us to the floor, the final speeches, and the reflection on a difficult year demonstrates how much we value our students.
- We've all started the year with more energy than we ended it. That means we've invested, used, and spent ourselves for the good of the world. The summer can't come soon enough to recharge us for the next year.
- We've all "faked it" with lessons. Intricate planning is not always the most important part of a lesson. A teacher must be flexible and be able to "wing" a lesson in the moment. Sometimes we're presented with those impromptu opportunities. That doesn't mean the lesson is empty or shallow. It means that a teacher understands when and how to usurp a planned lesson with a better lesson for the moment.
- We've all waited until the last minute to post grades for a report card. This one just comes with better time management. Usually, it's the result of waiting to grade papers until they stack up into a mountain of work that we don't want to do. Then, like any other such looming task, we avoid it...and we feel awful because of it.
- We've all pretended things were going smoothly when they weren't. It could be a pride thing. We don't want to admit when we've lost control, but if we need help, we should ask for it. We're all in this together, searching to solve problems.
- We've all complained too much in the teachers lounge. They told us in college to avoid the lounge. The lounge is the location of gossip and gripe sessions. At the same time, we try to maintain professional relationships, and the lounge is the place for this to happen, too. Can we eat lunch with our peers without talking about students or other teachers? Can we make the teachers lounge a positive place?
- We've all made mistakes in front of a crowd. Admit it when you do it. Whether your error was in front of your class, parents, or peers, you can't let it go too far. Sometimes the simple solution is to confess and apologize. Sometimes I just have to be the bigger man.
- We've all skipped lessons that we were uncomfortable with. We are never the master of every lesson in every subject. We have our strengths, but there are moments when we don't really know what we're talking about. We might not have been as interested, or we paid less attention in our own schooling, and perhaps we just don't like it. It's not the end of the world, and students won't perish because of a little shortcoming. In fact, they'll probably get twice as much of another lesson from us at another time.