Well, it’s that time of the year. I’m sipping hot coffee right now, relaxed in my classroom. I’m listening to August Burns Red — yeah I’m the weird elementary teacher who loves just about all metal genres as well as punk rock — as I plan out my first couple weeks. I’m excited to start fresh: new students, new curriculum, new opportunities.
The pressure is on, though. Why? Well, let’s stop to think about all that teachers do.
We teach academics. That’s obvious, but think about the weight that carries. We are responsible for teaching students for an entire school year. We need to impart knowledge and wisdom that they will carry with them forever. We get to take some credit for their success, but we also have to take responsibility for their short comings. That’s an immense pressure that terrifies me. I am confident in myself as a teacher, but there’s always some uncertainty about what lies in store. As I listen to August Burns Red scream the lyrics “Beliefs set aside, the uncertainty is what’s truly terrifying!” I’m reminded of just how true that is.
We are servants. Not slaves. We serve our students and their families by providing the best education possible. We serve our students by providing interventions, supports, and strategies for their struggles.
We teach social skills. While a great deal of this responsibility falls on families, we are with these kiddos for over 9 months. We impact them greatly. We model and teach them social skills that they need, not only for school, but for life.
We are role models. As a male teacher, I’m reminded of this over and over again. “I wanted my child in your class, because they need a positive male role model in their life.” The pressure is on to be that positive role model everyday; what I say and do is impacting my kids everyday. The same is true for every teacher, regardless of their gender.
We teach them how to handle emotions. I am honest with my students, telling them that I have depression and anxiety. I am open with how I handle my emotions. I use literature to teach kids all sorts of strategies for dealing with a wide range of emotions. I counsel students who are angry, sad, anxious, etc.
We are cheerleaders. Not only in the classroom. We cheer students from the bleachers at their basketball and football games. We applaud them for their efforts in dance. We congratulate them for a job well done after showing their livestock in the county fairs.
We do more than just the above. We are heroes to some of them. We are their inspiration. We open doors to them. We teach them right from wrong.
That’s why we need to bring it everyday!
Bring your A-game to the classroom everyday. You’re allowed to have off days, so don’t beat yourself up when you are struggling. It teaches students that it’s okay to make mistakes; it shows them how real and human you truly are. But don’t stay down. Bring it!
Don’t settle for okay when you can be excellent. Our students deserve excellent teachers. They deserve a teacher who is excellent in their knowledge of the content they teach. They need a teacher who is excellent in their practice.
Bring excitement to the classroom! We all had that teacher that was monotone, dry, and — oh my God — talked too much! Nothing turns kids off to learning than worksheets, lectures, and the same thing day after day after day. Dress up as that famous person you are teaching about. Transform your room into something the kids will remember forever. Take them outside for science class. Play some music that ties in with what you are teaching. Bring the excitement!
Leave your negativity and bad attitude in the car…better yet, leave it at home. Your students feed off your energy. I’ve been in classroom where I can feel the negative atmosphere: the kids are grumpy and so is the teacher. I’ve been in classrooms where the teacher and the students are engaged and pumped to learn. Both situations are the effect of the teacher’s attitude. Bring your positive vibes to the classroom. Bring your calm spirit into the classroom when chaos seems to be wreaking havoc and watch the atmosphere change.
Model self care. (This means you actually have to practice self care.) How does this relate to “bringing it everyday”? You’re bringing the idea and importance of self respect and self worth. When students see this, they are more likely to take care of themselves, be ready to learn, take pride in their work, and themselves.
Bring your mistakes to them. Whaaaaaaaa? Yeah, mistakes. Show them the importance of having a growth mindset; model how mistakes lead to thinking about and processing our actions, eventually leading to solutions and answers. Bring that growth mindset into the classroom. Our students need to know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Think of how freeing that is for our students…bring it to them!
Our students need teacher who brings it everyday. Will you be that teacher? Will you be the one who transforms a boring lesson into a lesson that they will never forget? Will you be unique? Will you bring passion into what you teach? Will you speak for them when they don’t have a voice? Will you do whatever it take to help them be successful?
Join me this year, teachers. Let’s impact our students like never before.
Ready. Set. Bring it!