I was going to post my next words of encouragement on face book and then decided this one might take more space so it’s a blog. Ok, so inservice or “PD” as it is now called is barely over and you are exhausted already, right? I know. As Miranda Jackson said once (and I can’t remember how she said it exactly, so feel free to fix this Miranda) “This is way beyond college exam week tired”. I see it in the eyes of our neebies on staff–that excitement mixed with raw FEAR. So, here’s the best advice that I have never forgotten from some of the best teachers in the world. If I can remember who that person is, I will give credit. My next blog is on discipline tips–not that I am the best–but I can share what I have learned. And it doesn’t really involve concealed weapons as I have said for years.
1. Get some sleep. You may find yourself going to bed at 8:00. It’s ok. It’s going to get better.
2. Now you want to know when it will get better? It seems to calm down after Labor Day. So get sleep, eat whatever, forget cleaning your house or apartment until the month doesn’t start with an “A” anymore. It’s survival time.
3. Treat yourself. Some of you may be living with that rule that you will not get paid until you’ve worked a month which is torture, so you are living on Ramen Noodles. Treats do not need to be expensive. Sonic Happy Hour is my best friend. There are also great coupons online for a variety of things, so do whatever will give you a lift. Place chocolate in your desk drawer. Never go a school day without chocolate. Some days, it makes life worth living.
4. Cry. Let it go and sing “Let It Go” if you must. We are in a stressful profession of testing mandates that are ridiculous. After a good cry, you will feel better. If you are crying because of a discipline battle that you feel you are losing, I have learned that after a bad day usually comes a good one. Some days you will feel that it couldn’t get any worse, so look for the good day that is coming.
5. Laugh. When you realize that you have gone a few days without laughing, break out the funny movie clips (you know you don’t have time for the whole movie), you tube…I tend to provide myself with plenty of humor.
6. Get to school early. You will be stressed if you don’t. And. let’s face it, you are now going to bed at 8:00, so you can do it.
7. PRAY. Pray over the desks, walk around your room, prayer walk around your campus, whatever works. LISTEN TO ME–THIS ONE IS IMPORTANT: I have been stumped as to what to try next, do next with students and I stupidly forget to call upon God Almighty Who made this person and knows exactly what will work. God knows their hearts, home life, background and He will prompt us as to what route to take next. LISTEN to the Holy Spirit.
8. Post verses where you will see them. I have some on my podium right now. Here are some that I have needed:
Proverbs 3:3-5 (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
I Chronicles 16:34 (NIV)
34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
And in those particular difficult situations, read Psalm 13 or any of the Psalms. I almost memorized Psalm 13 during a time with a challenging student. Also read Habakkuk 3: 17-19. Do not try to do this alone. Depend on God for wisdom. Before I get out of my Pathfinder each morning (or almost every morning), I say “The battle is the Lord’s.”
9. Dress professionally. It sets the tone. We have spirit day and different dress down type days, but I am very careful to establish discipline before I start dressing down. It is as if when I dress in jeans, they relax a little on discipline.
10. Be nice to your janitor and secretary. Get to know your SRO person if you have one like we do in high school. They are the ones who really run everything. They can be your best friends. Truly mine at my school are amazing,and honestly, I can call them friends.
Now, repeat after me:
I am a good teacher. No, I am an excellent teacher. God has equipped me and called me to teach these children. They may be a well disciplined class or not, but God has me right where He wants me and I have a job to do. I can change a child’s life forever by educating and loving him/her. I can potentially change many lives by changing this one. I will not shy away from disciplining or loving where needed. I will not always be the most popular person in my room. Jesus wasn’t either, so that’s ok.
My next blog is about discipline if you want to know my best advice on that. I learned from the best: Jane Williams. She was the teacher I student taught under and she was the perfect mix of laughter, learning and “don’t even think about mess with me” attitude. The kids loved her and I did too (and do). I also can remember Emily Stowe Dorris‘s class very well and I have patterned so much after her. Both were examples of what a Christian teacher looks like. Look how many people these ladies have influenced.
Now go eat something and relax. You are changing the world.