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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

That KIND of teacher



Sometimes a KIND teacher is like a rainbow on a grey day. Enough brightness to help everyone else feel hope. Be that KIND of teacher.

You can tell a lot about a teacher at the copier machine. People are watching you and certain small things earn a great amount of respect because they tell a bit about you. When you have a school full of this KIND of people, things just run smoother.

When the copier runs out of paper, do you load just enough for your job or do you top off the copier?

Think about it ... if everyone loads just enough for THEIR job and the copier is used 50 times a day, that tray is opening and closing 50 times. Then, you have 50 times that people are frustrated that SOMEONE ELSE didn't top off the copier. Your copier breaks more often and people are MORE on edge. If just 2 or 3 people topped off the copier, wouldn't your day run much more smoothly? I know of people that just pop in and load the copier when they are waiting on something else ... it seems little, but I notice how much paper people put in the copier because it says whether they think of others after them or just themselves.

Do you have labels that you use consistently for students and other teachers that are limiting your thoughts and interactions?

Label maps not people. People can change, but not when you try to hold them in a certain place. Smart. Hard working. Sorry. Lazy. Struggling. Emotionally unstable.

There are some teachers who consistently use certain terms relating to kids. "Lazy" is one of those terms I just cannot stand. A child may not be doing your work, but are they really lazy? What if you're so boring that they have to pinch their arms to stay awake, like I did with a history professor in college? What if they are so lost they don't know where to start? What if they think you hate them and they're just trying to get by? What if you make fun of them every time they try something and make them feel like an idiot in front of the class? What if they had to take care of their little brothers and sisters while their parents fought again last night? Can you honestly condense your assessment of a student down to the word "lazy."

Do you go to bat and help those teachers who are so tired they can't even get out of the dugout?

There are times when there is so much work to be done, or a teacher is so loaded down, they can't see straight. Right now is one of those times for me - I'm so tired I can't see straight.

I had a down day and a teacher did something for me. When it dawned on me what she had done -- I looked at her and said "thank you, I can't believe you did that for me" and she said, "I went to bat for you because you're worth it." I could have cried, what she did for me was huge.

Another teacher jumped in and helped solve a problem for me with a few minutes of her time...she went to bat for me too. Another offered to keep a class for me during what will be a very busy time...she went to bat.

Do you notice who is losing their mind with work and worry and do you come up under that burden for them? My sister brings me a diet cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper when she knows I'm having one of those days. She shows up at my desk, puts in on my desk, smiles, says "I love you" and leaves. I know what it means. She loves me and she loves me enough to give up her (and my) favorite soda. She goes to bat. She is that KIND of sister.

What kind of teacher are you?

Teaching is tough. Tough, but very rewarding. We put up with the yucky stuff kind of like you put up with those dirty diapers on your toddler - you love the squirming, sometimes fussy little child that makes those awful packages. We have students and stress and that means we have someone to teach. Because we teach, we have all these extra stresses and worries. The kids are worth it.

But when other teachers take a moment to be unselfish in little ways, it makes a difference. Because the KIND of teacher who is KIND makes that KIND of school where everyone wants to work. Not a perfect school but the KIND of school where mutual respect and kindness underlie the very hard work that we're called to do.

Let's be that KIND of teacher - whether people notice or not. Whether they say thank you or not - let's love and be the KIND of teacher who is helpful to others.

During stressful times that KIND of teacher may just make all the difference in a school.

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