My word is bond (not to be confused with James…)

It’s such an interesting time of year, isn’t it? I used to think it was just teachers who were crawling to the finish line in June, ready to throw marking into the air willy-nilly style (what would that look like, I wonder…?)

But now I realise that my students are doing the same thing.

My eyes search my classroom, looking for that one face that is still fresh, still eager, still wanting more.

None. Nada. Nothing. Only vacant eyes stare back at me.

Geeeeez. I’m glad we’re all in the same boat, but now I’m afraid it might sink faster.

Back in May (so like, last month), Seth Godin wrote a post about emotional labour. The things we do because we are professionals. The things we may not like to do, but we do.

ice cube
Attribution: id-iom, flickr

The things we smile about when we really feel like crying. I believe it’s our responsibility to ensure that we check ourselves before we wreck ourselves (thank you, Ice Cube!)

Whatever we say or do — especially at this time of year — can have a huge impact on the way our students respond. As the teacher, as the adult, as the professional, we must ensure that each of our actions, our words, our emotions create value in the classroom. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but it’s one of those things that are non-negotiable. Our actions and reactions help to shape how our students act and react to a variety of situations. Keep things as “real” as possible, then feel free to vent to your BFF, your SO, or your VIP (sorry, I needed another acronym), but ensure that you present the most positive, the most committed, the most engaged version of yourself to your students.

In years to come, they will remember you as the person with the best of dispositions, the one who encouraged, supported, and loved them right up until the very end of the school year.

And that, my friends, is worth the emotional labour.

(feature image courtesy of eltpics, flickr)

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5 comments

  1. Hi Uzay,

    Thanks for sharing this–and I absolutely concur that teachers need to have an outlet, need to have something or someone that keeps them from bringing negativity into the classroom.

    I think often that’s one of the most important things we can teach students: an ability to monitor emotions, an ability to show up ready to roll, and a want to be our best-selves when required.

    After reading ‘Option B’ (more on that here https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/sandberg-optionb/524640/), I’ve been thinking a lot about workplace protocols when it comes to being supportive. The thing is, there is a big difference between general fatigue or grumpiness and a colleague who is in crisis. That book really pushed me to realize that schools need to have more conversations around ways to support those who are vulnerable. I know I’ve often hesitated to ask someone if they were ok, or to offer help for fear of embarrassing them. .. or maybe fear of embarrassing myself because I wouldn’t know how to respond to their emotion.

    If we demand emotional labour, we need to learn emotional fitness–maybe?
    Thanks for pushing my thinking here,
    Tricia

    Like

  2. Thanks!!! Really enjoyed your post, and mainly because I can relate to it.
    While reading it I was reflecting on my own actions this past month. The things I have said or done in the classroom… Have I been that teacher?

    And even though I agree completely with what you are saying, another part of me wants to keep it real. Wants to get rid of the all year long super teacher idealism. Keep the teachers as human as possible, as vulnerable and tired as possible. A part of me wants my students to see me tired and puzzled. Because I think, that also those so-called negative emotions can bring value into the classroom. I want them to see me come out of it. I want them to see me deal with it and not just hide it. I want them to know I am in the same boat as them and that we will be just fine. I want to show them what are the options for dealing with different situations. Because I think there is nothing wrong with showing vulnerability.

    I guess it’s all about the degree. What is too much? what is acceptable and what is just crazy teacher losing control? What requires the emotional labour and what is just a “normal/acceptable” also really tired teacher?

    Or even more important? why are we (teachers and students) soooo tired? Is that ok? normal?

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  3. Hey Uzay, I liked reading your post! Ice Cube quote and all!

    When I was reading I remember seeing a hilarious meme last year as we were nearing the end of the school year. The Gif had Leonardo Dicaprio in his role in the Revenant, where he was crawling out of his grave and the caption read, “Teachers in May.” I just spent way too long looking for it on the web before I decided to make it for you (http://giphy.com/go/ZWEyMTlhYjYt) so you could enjoy the connection to your post! Sometimes it does feel this grueling!

    I agree with you and Tricia that we do need to monitor our emotions as educators and that our behaviors, actions and emotions can certainly have an impact on our students. Interestingly, Georgina’s quote has merit too despite the obvious contradiction.

    I myself feel that I often ‘act as if’ though, I wonder how authentic I am being to my students, my colleagues and myself. Like Georgina said, if we are “tired”…can we not show it?

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  4. Thank you Uzay for this much needed reality check! I especially loved what you said about how “Our actions and reactions help to shape how our students act and react to a variety of situations.”…we are modelling real LIFE for students and (as Seth Godin wrote in that article you shared) “Almost no one gets hired to eat a slice of chocolate cake”. As you know our UWC principles emphasise developing resilience which is a much needed skill as a student and well into adulthood as well. I think it’s easy for our exhaustion and ‘finishing a marathon’ attitudes to be contagious (between colleagues AND students!) at the end of the year, but keeping in mind the important relationship we’ve built from the beginning can (hopefully) help keep our emotions in check as we help bring our year to a meaningful close.

    On the other hand I also agree with Sean and Georgina when they mention that students should present our authentic selves to our students although it is difficult to know just HOW authentic we should be. I do love how mindfulness is making an appearance in more and more classrooms and sometimes stopping for a ‘mindful moment’ is a way to be your authentic (frustrated, exhausted) self with your students while also teaching them a strategy for coping with these normal emotions. This article discusses some great techniques teachers can use with students…especially at the start of the year! http://educatorsally.com/end-school-chaos-4-ways-incorporate-mindfulness-classroom-amidst-craze/

    Thanks again Uzay for your thought-provoking post!

    Like

  5. Thank you Uzay for this much needed reality check! I especially loved what you said about how “Our actions and reactions help to shape how our students act and react to a variety of situations.”…we are modelling real LIFE for students and (as Seth Godin wrote in that article you shared) “Almost no one gets hired to eat a slice of chocolate cake”. As you know our UWC principles emphasise developing resilience which is a much needed skill for students to learn and adults as well! I think it’s easy for our exhaustion and ‘finishing a marathon’ attitudes to be contagious (between colleagues AND students!) at the end of the year, but keeping in mind the important relationship we’ve built from the beginning can (hopefully) help keep our emotions in check as we help bring our year to a meaningful close.

    On the other hand I also agree with Sean and Georgina when they mention that students should present our authentic selves to our students although it is difficult to know just HOW authentic we should be. I do love how mindfulness is making an appearance in more and more classrooms and sometimes stopping for a ‘mindful moment’ is a way to be your authentic (frustrated, exhausted) self with your students while also teaching them a strategy for coping with these normal emotions. This article discusses some great techniques teachers can use with students…especially at the end of the school year! http://educatorsally.com/end-school-chaos-4-ways-incorporate-mindfulness-classroom-amidst-craze/

    Thanks again Uzay for your thought-provoking post!

    Like

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