Friday, March 6, 2009

Help for tired teachers

It’s a funny time of year in the world of classrooms. There’s a tendency to give up on certain students who appear to be purposefully entrenched in bad habits, both academically and behaviorally.

Giving up is not a professional option, but redistributing the teaching efforts towards those that are ready to learn may be a necessary strategy for maintaining sanity and conserving dwindling emotional reserves. Teachers can start to run a bit low this time of year.

But do miracles happen after mid-year? Yes.

I spent a good part of last year trying to convince a student that his number one problem was that he didn’t think he had a problem. But, late in the fourth quarter he had an epiphany, and all of a sudden – he was ready to learn.

A few years back I had a similar situation, but the student talked his parent into transferring him out of my class (without consulting me).

Well, my life got easier, in fact the whole class seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s hard on the class when you have a resistant learner negatively impacting the learning environment. I still see this student occasionally, and I’m interested in his life. I still haven’t given up on him, but I don’t have to be confronted daily with his opposition to learning.

Teaching is a balance between being fair, being realistic, being hopeful, and being able to muster the emotional where-with-all to herd a group of learners through a full school year. Some students are more difficult and draining, and sometimes they can obscure the students who are making the daily effort, overcoming difficulties, and finding ways to “get ‘er done!” It’s easier to focus on the trials rather than the triumphs, but both are real.

Winter gives way to Spring. Soon students and teachers will find relief and renewal in Spring Break. Hang in there fellow educators, and all of you who feel like you’re at the end of your rope. Tie a knot and hang on! Help is on the way.

(Get some rest. Take a nap. Go to bed early. Tomorrow is another day, and new strength is just a dawn away.)


  1. Ohhhh do I know about this. I guess it's because problem students are everywhere.

    Last summer (we don't get a break where I teach!) there were two brothers who literally changed the whole dynamic when they were there. And when they weren't there - yes - we all breathed a sigh of relief.

    They moved, and a few other 'obstructions' left our center one way or another, and things are so much better. I do like to try and better the 'problem children' while I have them, but I'd be lying if I said life wasn't easier without them. :(

  2. That's why at work and in life, I try not to be that "problem child." Pleasant and hard-working: my two favorite adjectives to attach to a student or co-worker.