To all those amazing teachers, this is a letter for you.
I’m writing this in hopes that it can brighten someone’s day, or help someone through a tough patch, or just be something my teacher friends read and ponder over. It’s certainly not going to change the world! Just my musings, dedicated to teachers and others who work in schools. Because schools are so much more than teachers – there are some absolutely incredible support staff (be it TAs/SEN TAs/lunchtime staff, whoever it is that supports you in your days) this letter is for all of us. (Including me, I do work in a school after all).
Teaching, working with kids, isn’t easy but it’s certainly rewarding. You work day in and day out to get these incredible balls of energy to learn this, harness this skill, become these balls of energy that can do some incredible things, say some hilarious things and ultimately become little people we are so proud of. It’s hard, it’s tiring, it’s exhausting and you all work SO hard… just keep it up. Those nights of sleeplessness because your lesson plan is running over your head, or that lesson didn’t go well, or because you’ve not marked all those books you need to… don’t let them get on top of you. Keep plodding on. You’re doing an absolutely incredible job. Those kids are learning and growing and maturing because of all of your hard work. You’re helping them become the little people they’re destined to be… give yourself a break. That kid who’s had a horrible morning? That kid who has fallen out with his friend? That kid who doesn’t have a great home life? You make them feel better. You put that smile on their face. You make them feel included, involved and important – and that’s important.
Sharing ideas and resources is an incredible part of this community. I love that teachers are sharers – they will share what they can. It may be a resource they made, an idea they had, a lesson that went well… there’s always someone sharing something that worked for them! Just take yourself to Twitter/Facebook (ignore the people who are hating on this profession… it’s not all doom and gloom) and you’ll find people who are happy to give advice and guidance to anyone who asks. I love this sharing. It makes us better teachers. I don’t know another profession where people openly share so much. Keep sharing, keep asking. There’s always something new around the corner for us to try and to learn.
On that note… don’t feel like just because it seems EVERYONE is doing something that you have to do it. Or feel like if you’re doing something everyone is hating on that you’re doing it wrong. Yes, people sharing their ideas is amazing and we can learn so much from each other but what works in their classroom isn’t what will work in your classroom. I have tried things that people have ranted and raved about on Twitter and Facebook and it’s not worked in my classroom. It’s not your fault, you’re not a bad teacher, you’re not failing anyone… kids are just as individual as you are and it’s important to remember that. Just because it works in your friend’s school 100s of miles away doesn’t mean it will work in your classroom. Try out the ideas but don’t feel like you’re failing if it doesn’t work. You know your kids. You know what’s going to work with them… so don’t try something you know won’t help them. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. If you’re doing something that everyone else doesn’t like but it’s working in your classroom then KEEP GOING. Do what’s best for your kids. Not what everyone else thinks is best. YOU are the one who knows your class best. YOU know what’s best for them. Essentially your classroom runs on what’s best for them… not what’s best for kids miles away. If you magpie someone’s idea and it does work then share it with that person! There is nothing better than knowing something you’ve shared works for someone else.
In regards to your classrooms… make them a space you’re proud of. There’s nothing better than going into a classroom and it being a space that feels very ‘you’. Your classroom should be a space where your kids feel safe, happy and productive. I’m not foolish, I realise that there are kids who don’t want to be there, there are times YOU don’t want to be there. If your classroom is that space you’re proud of then these days will be less frequent or at least feel a lot less shitty. I’m not lucky enough right now to have my OWN classroom per se, but I know when I do get one I want it to be very me. I want kids to want to come into the classroom and want them to want to learn. Your classroom should feel like theirs too. Make them feel included in it somehow. I love seeing everyone’s classrooms – your displays, your reading spaces, your outside areas… keep sharing them with me. There’s nothing more telling about a teacher than their classroom… and they’re always incredible. Thank you for sharing and making your classrooms places that you’re happy to share. I love seeing them.
Teachers are an incredible bunch of people. Keep up the hard work. You’re all wonderful. I can’t wait to be a “proper” teacher (see: qualified).