Yesterday’s post had a link leading to a list of rules to live by if you’re a restaurant worker. At risk of some of my students discovering a few of my educational secret recipes (chances are they all have me figured out anyway), I shall deliver on the promised set of “have tos and can’ts” for teaching. I’m sure you could add things – be nice, heh – or even do a list of your own for your profession. I would be quite interested to see what you’d say.
Who do we have here in Finkville? Some students, some teachers, a freelance writer, a pastor, a corporate trainer, a homemaker, a church musician, an Air Force vet, actors, singers, retail workers…and who knows about the folks who read but do not comment. We could do a lot of rule-making.
I ain’t saying I’m super teacher, so these rules are aimed at me as well. Let’s just call it a “plus/delta” list for self-monitoring purposes. Already-awesome teachers needn’t read; this is just Festivus for the rest of us.
(Apologies to those who’ve read my book — I know a couple of these are shameless rip-offs.)
Rules/Realities for Teachers
- You really, honestly, truly have to like being around kids. I’m not joking.
- Kids know if you don’t like them/respect them. Learn to hide your disdain, or better yet, try actually liking and respecting them. Most times, you’ll get it back.
- Speaking of getting it back: Your students will reflect about 50% of your positive energy in class, but 100% of your negative attitude.
- You will likely never own a Lexus without outside help.
- (Music specific) Coaches can be your friends — but not if you’re a whining, hand-wringing, weirdo music geek loon.
- If you allow a student to argue with you about things that should be your call alone, you have already lost the argument. And the battle, and the war.
- Stop whining about low pay. I know it’s criminal, but you knew it going in (even though teachers are probably the lowest-paid labor union in the history of the AFL-CIO). I dunno…maybe if there was competition for teaching jobs, or you had to actually worry about losing your job….nevermind.
- Don’t rub it in at your non-teaching friends about snow days, vacations and fog delays. They don’t care, and it doesn’t really do our street cred any favors.
- (Music specific) Make a kid choose between you and sports, and you will lose — every time. Learn to work around stuff.
- As in life, do unto others (your colleagues, students, administrators) as you’d have them do to you. Flip out only when needed. Take charge, and kick arse when you have to, but always work to keep your students’ dignity intact. Others won’t understand this; they’ll think you’re soft. “Why don’t you just kick her out of class?” “Why don’t you point this person out?” No matter, Grasshoppa. There is a method to my madness.
- Never purposely humiliate a student to make yourself feel better. We’ve all seen it, and it’s not pretty.
- Decide now what you want your students to remember most about you; then work to show them that particular trait as often as possible.
- It’s not about you. In fact, it’s *never* about you.
- Teaching is fully 50% theater. Embrace it.
- You already know that most of the time, students are not necessarily overjoyed to see you. Your job is to achieve 100% cloak over the fact that you’re human and you feel the same way sometimes. Refer to rule #14.
- Don’t assume that parents are the enemy. They aren’t always looking to get their child out of doing work/taking blame/being responsible. (It’s just that those kinds of parents are always the ones you hear from.)
- There are some braying-donkey administrators. You could be Christ on a pony and they’d still find something wrong with what you’re doing. Accept it. (Fortunately, there aren’t any where I teach, but I’ve had some doozies in the past, yo.)
- Strive for balance. Be careful about getting off-track with too many personal stories during class (see rule #13), and don’t say anything you don’t want the rest of the school — including your colleagues and bosses — to hear. I love my students, but I also know that 99% of them would rat on me at the drop of a hat if the news was juicy. I was born in the dark, but it wasn’t last night.
- Operate with stealth. Do your work to the best of your ability, and let your successess — not your mouth — do the talking. The more you climb up the self-aggrandizement ladder, the farther you have to fall. And you will fall. We all do from time to time.
- Find ways to enjoy going to work. We’re on this earth for such a short time. You don’t have to wait until your 50th birthday to decide that life is for enjoying; for loving your family; for dealing with the speed bumps and going on; for having fun at some point every day. If you hate your job, your students will know it — in a New York minute. If that’s the case, GET OUT. If it’s not, give kids the credit and time they deserve — even when they don’t actually deserve it.
And now, alas, I am out of time. Judging from the above, I have a lot of work to do.
Today begins the week from Hades: the 5 a.m. – 10 p.m. marathons. We’ll just see what I’m made of, by crackie.