Just like most people in all of Canada these past few weeks, I have been watching a crazy amount of basketball. Go Raptors!! One thing I love about basketball is that every time one of the players is on the floor, his teammate is there to put his hand out and pick him up. I think teachers need to take the same approach with each other.
I have a brand-new role this year and there have been some days that I have left school and thought well “that sucked”. I didn’t say the exact right thing to a parent, I didn’t handle a behaviour situation correctly and today my one student flat out told me I was not her friend. Not exactly sunshine and rainbows. We are generally very hard on ourselves because we want the best for our students every day. Since we are so hard on ourselves, it is important that we pick each other up every time we are lying down on the court.
There are so many days in my current role where I lack confidence. I am new to the role and I second guess myself a lot. I guess that comes with being an experienced teacher. I was very confident and experienced in my previous role and it was hard to go some place new and feel like I was back at the beginning of my learning.
Some of my colleagues have been amazing at picking me up off the floor on those tough days. My favourite was a friend putting her plans aside and saying let’s have a coffee and talk through this issue that is worrying you. She asked me some amazing guiding questions and then looked at me and said this is hard and there is no easy answer. She then asked “Do you have the supports to help you learn how to help this student?” “Is there anything I can do to support?” And finally she looked at me with all the confidence in the world and said “You will get this, it will just take time”. She picked me up about 7 times during the conversation and I left the coffee shop feeling so much better!
Over my career, I have heard some colleagues be less supportive with each other. There are two common things that are sometimes said amongst teachers that definitely leave teachers on the court stranded.
“That doesn’t happen in my room.” This sentence always drives me absolutely crazy!!!!!!! There are always so many factors that could contribute to difficulty in a different setting that has nothing to do with the teacher or teaching. Depending on the subject it may include noise levels, physical structure to the space, interest in the subject etc. Even if it is the teaching style saying “this doesn’t happen in my room” is not really helpful. Instead, if a colleague approaches with a concern about a student it would be so much better to ask them if there is anything you can do to help make the situation better.
My number 2 pet peeve is “If that student was in my class, I’d straighten them out/they wouldn’t be having these problems.”I have yet to meet a teacher who didn’t have a challenging student at some point in their career. We have all been there. It is important that we offer help to each other when we are taking time to figure out our students.
Our job is hard, we need to be kind to each other. Make sure that you put out your hand to pick someone else when they are on the court.