October 25, 2021
By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
Why so many teachers are thinking of quitting The Washington Post Magazine, October 18, 2021
These are just a few of the headlines that have appeared this past week decrying what all teachers know: being a teacher right now is really, really hard.
If you are teaching in a classroom, you may have a lot of voices in your head. And they may be telling you you’re not doing enough, by demanding… that you get all your students on or above grade level by the end of the year; that you meet all your district’s teacher evaluation criteria; that you cover for your colleagues who are absent or have left the profession; that you continue to navigate all of the COVID safety measures in place; and more.
Let me supply an alternative voice: You’re doing plenty. The company you offer your students – by speaking with and sharing space with them – is of great value. You are good company.
You are doing something of great value simply by spending time with your kids, talking with them, listening to them, engaging with them around important topics – ranging from learning basic arithmetic to finding out how their families are doing to understanding what a democracy is and what it takes to maintain one. Keeping good company with our students is good for academic learning and for mental wellness – for kids and for teachers.
Here are some ways to keep good company with kids:
Say “Yes! And…” by incorporating students’ ideas and interests into a lesson you’re required to teach.
Reflect on a time each day when you pause to listen to a child tell you something that’s important to them. (Of course, this happens dozens of times in a day, but there’s power in noticing and appreciating it even just once.)
Take your class outside. Outside is a great place to discuss a novel or learn the basics of human physiology or calm our nervous systems while building observation skills.
Incorporate physical activity into your lessons. Movement will make content more likely to stick, and it will make the day more meaningful and enjoyable.
Tell your kids about something that’s hard for you right now. And share some strategies you have figured out for navigating tough times. Invite your students to do the same.
The demands are real, but as teachers and school leaders navigate them, it is so important to remember the value you’re providing your students every day. Your good company will make the young people in your care stronger, smarter, happier, and more likely to thrive, even in the midst of this challenging time.
As the renowned YA author John Green so poignantly reminds us, “In the end what you do isn’t going to be nearly as interesting or important as who you do it with.”
Thank you to all the teachers and school leaders out there who are keeping good company with young people. May you enjoy one another’s company this week and always.