The evenings are dark. There is snow on the ground but it seems not enough for a much needed ‘snow day’. Year 11 on a Wednesday afternoon are making you tear your hair out. Exams are changing. Forms need filling in and time is running out.
It’s so easy at this time of year to think about what isn’t going quite right, or what we could do better, but what actually is going well?
As teachers, the reason why we do this job is to give those students who sit in front of us the best start in life that they could possibly have. Some of that is through them doing their best in our subject, but some of it is just helping them to grow as people. Everything we do has an impact: a smile and hello as they come into your room; an encouraging pep talk; taking time to plan a lesson that you think the class will find interesting. Being interested in them as people.
The small things count too.
We do so much every day without realising it, and without realising the impact it actually has. You will get the odd student who will write you a lovely thank you card or with whom you will have a positive conversation at a parents’ evening, but on a day to day basis, this may not always be so apparent.
Think about all the times you have changed a seating plan to accommodate a particular student or need (or changed the seating plan about 500 times until you get the perfect balance…) The times when you have gone through a piece of homework with a student at break time so they understand it better. The numerous occasions you have asked a student how they are, or sat down with them to have a chat about something that is on their mind. How about the time you spend searching the Internet for that perfect resource, or having professional conversations on social media about how you can better help a certain group of students? The professional conversations we have all the time with colleagues about specific students. The conversations we have on the phone or in person with parents.
Never giving up.
It’s so easy to think about the things we are not getting quite right or what we could do better, and this is probably the reason we are teachers – because we always know we can do better. Don’t forget all of the ‘little things’ that we do on a daily basis to try to get these students through, what may be, some of the toughest years of their life.
It all counts.
Michelle Mahoney. Maths.
Questions for Discussion
What is going well?
How are the little things making a difference?
What could we still try?