Teaching is probably the world’s best profession, but there are a lot of ways it can drive you a little crazy.
When I first began teaching, I struggled with all of these. I did the running around to a crazy schedule. I got angry and yelled at my students…a little too often. I wrote mounds of paperwork that no one ever read.
The chaos can bleed over into your life and before long you find yourself watching a little too much TV with your hand in a bag of mini Reesey Cups.
Finding a little peace in our lives is difficult and creating peace in our classrooms and schools is even more difficult, but one thing is for sure, you can’t do the latter without first taking care of the former.
Peace Is What We Need
But peace is what we need.
In the face of broken families, struggling students, and scant resources; in the face of drug addictions and cyber bullying; in the face of school shootings and suicides…
Our students need us. They need us to create peace in our classrooms, sanctuaries where they can get a little help making sense of the world before they have to go out and face it.
So how can we keep the world at bay and still manage to get all of our homework graded?
Here are a few thoughts.
1. Get right with yourself.
You can’t help anyone if your life is a mess. If you need to make some changes in your life and can’t find the motivation to do it for yourself, do it for your students. You need to be healthy to be of any help to them.
You need to sleep enough, eat well, exercise, take care of yourself. You need to have good friends who help you deal with your issues.
Take time to think about life and what you are doing with it. Go for a walk. Find a quiet spot to close your eyes and breathe. You need to have peace in your life before you will ever have a chance of creating peace in your classes.
2. Get help.
We are often too proud to admit when we are having problems, especially if we have been teaching for a long time. We don’t want anyone to think we are incompetent to do our jobs.
But every teacher has problems. We are never perfect and there is always something to learn or improve. Many times, we don’t even consider our problems to be problems anymore. We have grown too accustomed to them. We have come to accept them as a part of the job. We have gotten good at pretending everything is fine, even when it isn’t.
Talk to other teachers. Be honest. Share each other’s burdens. Listen to each other.
3. Connect with your students.
The more you understand your students, where they are coming from and what they are struggling with, the more you will see opportunities to speak into their lives. Ten years from now, you will begin to hear back from some of them about the difference you made.
4. Be a peacemaker.
Create classroom experiences where you bring out the best in each other, where students encourage each other, respect each other, help each other, celebrate successes together, and work through failures together. Make space for laughing, sharing what’s going on, taking pictures together, playing games together. Take time to look into a student’s eyes and tell her you believe in her–the class can wait. Stand up for them, stand up for what’s right, stand up even when it might cost you.
5. Remember that any teacher can make a difference, no matter the subject.
The teachers that make the biggest difference in their students’ lives aren’t usually remembered for the subject matter they’re teaching.
6. Be patient.
It will not happen overnight. It takes time. But the more you practice creating peace in your classes, the better you will get at it, and the more your students will remember you and the difference you made in their lives.
I wish you all the best, and if you still find your hand in a bag of mini Reesey Cups from time to time, no judgment here. I can’t control myself with those things either.
What strategies do you have for creating peace during your classes?