When I read this article from Babble called The Trick That's Helping Me Find More Joy in Parenting, I felt inspired to write a post in a similar style about teaching.
It's all about perspective. I'm going to document a typical day of teaching from a "Glass-Half-Empty" point of view and then from a "Glass-Half-Full." The purpose of this exercise is to highlight how a difference in perspective can help us to find the joy in teaching and to focus on the positives.
"Glass-Half-Empty" School Day
7:30 AM I get to school later than I wanted to. I was hoping to get some things done before my "office hours" where I provide extra help to kids. Ugh. I need to make copies and check email. A teacher comes in to chat about the math curriculum… great, no time to make copies or check email!
7:40 AM Office hours begin and no kids show. Annoyed… why to I set time aside to help them if they aren't even going to come? Check email.
7:50 AM Two girls show up for help. Well, I can only help them for 20 minutes now instead of a half hour if they had been on time!
8:10 AM Students start arriving, so I head to the hall to monitor the morning craziness. Students are hugging each other and blocking the flow of traffic… again. I tell the crowd to move along.
8:20 AM In Excel (homeroom) Five students bombard me with five different questions/requests while I try to check off who is getting breakfast and do attendance. Argh! Why is this so stressful!
8:45 AM In a meeting with my team. We get off topic (again).
9:30 AM During my plan time I get an email from a teacher about how I'm implementing standards based grading. I needed to get some planning done during this time, but now I have to spend time crafting an email that both explains but doesn't overwhelm.
10:30 AM My most challenging student refuses to follow directions and work with his partner. He talks back to me then ignores me. I send him to the hall and have to stop helping the other groups to go deal with him.
12:00 PM In my Advanced Math class, the students aren't getting polynomials. They look at me like I have 5 heads.
12:50 PM Even though I'm supposed to have a half hour for lunch, several students stay after class to ask questions and I check my email quickly and now I only have 15 minutes to chat with some teachers I eat lunch with and scarf down my lunch.
2:00 PM In my last math class of the day the groups are just not getting as far as I expected. Now they will be "behind" the other classes.
3:17 PM Students leave. I'm stressed, I have to pack up quickly and make a beeline for another school building where I am presenting a professional development workshop at 3:30.
"Glass-Half-Full" School Day
7:30 AM I get to school a full 10 minutes before office hours begin, go me! Even though I wanted to make some copies and check my email, a teacher comes in to chat about math curriculum. I love that I work in such a collaborative environment. I get some new ideas of things to try this week and I give her a few ideas too.
7:40 AM Office hours begin and no one is here yet… I have a chance to check my email.
7:50 AM Two girls show up for help. It is nice that it's not a huge group that shows up this morning because it really gives me a chance to give these two girls some individualized help. They thank me before they leave. They really are sweet kids.
8:10 AM Students start arriving, so I head to the hall to monitor the hallways. Kids seem in a good mood this morning greeting each other and saying "hi" to me. A student that has autism and struggles with social skills says something to a girl and I see that she listens patiently and replies kindly.
8:20 AM In Excel (homeroom) five students come up to me with questions. I'm glad that I've built relationships with all of these kiddos and they feel they can come to me with their questions.
8:45 AM In a meeting with my team. Although we get off topic, we have a great discussion about a student that is struggling. I love working in a middle school where we have a chance to meet as a team of teachers and problem solve.
9:30 AM During my plan time I get an email from a teacher about how I'm implementing standards based grading. Even though I had planning I wanted to get done, I write them a response that I hope answers her questions and puts her mind at ease… she really is doing a great job. I'm glad that people are starting to embrace SBG!
10:30 AM My most challenging student refuses to follow directions and work with his partner. He talks back to me then ignores me. I send him to the hall and give him a moment to cool down. When I go to talk to him, he confides in me some issues at home that are preventing him for concentrating at school. I'm glad I know this because it helps me understand his behavior. He goes back into class and gets back to work.
12:00 PM In my Advanced Math class, the students aren't getting polynomials. At first I feel frustrated, but then it gives us a chance to address some misconceptions they are having and we have a great discussion.
12:50 PM A few students linger after class to ask a question and I'm glad they are so engaged with the polynomial topic. I check my email quickly and see a thank you from the teacher I emailed earlier… that was nice. I head down to the teachers lounge and enjoy 15 minutes of adult conversation with some teacher friends and eat my lunch.
2:00 PM In my last math class of the day the groups are just not getting as far as I expected. This makes me realize that they need a little more scaffolding to get to the level of understanding I want. It reminds me that I have a great activity that I used last year that I could use to all of the classes that I think will help.
3:17 PM Students leave. I pack up quickly because I have been asked to present another professional development workshop to my peers. I always feel so complimented when they ask me to present. I love teaching teachers.
I'm so glad that I came across the inspiration article and decided to write this post. Being positive is really about perspective!