As teachers, we commonly hold back on following through out of fear our students won’t like us.
The irony is that in reality, most students worst hatred isn’t saved for teachers who give out consequences, but teachers who give out consequences inconsistently.
A student who never gets away with interrupting will usually take his consequence with little complaint, but beware the student who gets away with it some of the time. He will burn holes through you with his hatred if you suddenly punish him for something he usually gets away with, especially without fair warning (but probably even with it).
We all recognize that we shouldn’t be so concerned about whether our students like us, but we can’t really help ourselves.
We want to be liked.
We want our students to sing our praises from the rooftops.
We want watery-eyed thank-yous from our students’ parents at the end of the semester.
Then a student pops our dream bubble with a needle as the rest of the kids in the class are running around screaming, climbing under tables, and wrestling over who gets the blue marker.
I know you know, but we all need to hear it from time to time: The goal of teaching is not that our students like us.
Our students don’t need friends; they have those.
They need mentors.
They need coaches.
They need role models.
The good news is that when we set out to do what’s best for our students, they will love us for it, if not now, then twenty years from now.
Children are fickle.
If you give them what they want, they will love you now and hate you five minutes later. If you give them what they need, they may hate you now, but they will love you forever.
Being a teacher is a thankless job at times and you will burn out if you are doing it for the affirmation. If you are doing it to make a difference, you will find much deeper reserves of energy and patience.
Teaching is self-sacrifice.
Teaching is giving.
Teaching is loving when the other isn’t always lovable.
Teaching is by grace a tinkering with the future…when the future keeps slapping your hands away.
You won’t always be liked, but it’s one of the most important jobs in the world.
Finding ways to follow through with the students who inhibit learning; to create an orderly, safe classroom environment; to reward hard work, perseverance, kindness, and creativity.
These are the foundations of a class that can change lives.
And your students will love you—and the class—when you maintain such a refuge.