If you are a teacher, you must check out our good friend Tanya Kelley, Ally to Teachers Who Are Burning Out.
Today we are sharing one of Tanya’s posts, called Ending Well, which is a great read for teachers of all kinds. Tanya also offers a free group coaching call called I’m SOOO DONE with that child! Click here to learn more or to sign up.
Happy End of Year to all of our teacher friends! And happy reading!
by Tanya Kelley
Cheers to you! As you take down the artwork and fancy writing assignments. Cheers to you! They’ve come so far since that first day you met them. Cheers to you — the year is over! And the 2014 / 2015 class picture takes its place with the others. Whew!
Maybe you’ll see them next year, but it won’t be the same. You’ll have a new class. They’ll have a new teacher. There are some students you hate to see go. But frankly, when it comes to others, you think, “thank heavens I will not have to deal with that child next year!” And in the same breath, the talk among your grade level team is thick with speculation about who is going to get the problem students next year.
Ending well is a process of letting go of the worst of times and the best of times and preparing to embrace a new class. It is also an opportunity to deepen personal and professional wisdom. If you’re willing to go there, it means taking a moment to linger with the memories and spirit of your problem child before moving on. If you decide to do so, above all, be gentle with yourself.
We’ve all had students who get under our skin. We breathe a sign of relief and the shoulders visibly let down when they are absent. We’re exhausted by the turmoil, conflict, strife, and high level of demand they bring to the classroom. We don’t want to feel that way. We maintain our best professional demeanor. But inside, we rail. We rant. “Why does it have to be such a struggle, every day? It’s so unfair!”
Consider a rant-o-rama. Basically a rant fest. Grab some paper and something to write with. Set a timer for 2 – 4 minutes. Rant about this problem child. Use your ugliest handwriting, caps, underlines, exclamation points, and emoticons. Stamp your foot if you want. Have a little tizzy fit now that the pressure is off. Or score your place in Monday’s “The Year’s Over and I’m SOOO Done” call at 10:00! Click here.
Later, when you have some time to quietly and calmly reflect, set aside 5 to 10 minutes. Approach this reflective time with a spirit of curious inquiry.
How is it that this child had such an ability to rile me up? What do I wish she could have been or done instead? Besides this child, what other people or situations bring up these same responses for me?
If you sense another rant-o-rama coming on, consider whether it would be beneficial to go back to that step, or it it would be best for you to return to a calm, reflective place of curious inquiry right now. Or, you might decide that now is not a good time to reflect. Remember to be gentle with yourself!
You may think, “Why even go there? The year is over. I never have to deal with her again. It’s not worth my time and energy.”
Here are 2 reasons why you might want to go there:
- Because there will be a next time! The universe has a sense of humor, that’s for sure. You’ll get another chance to deal with a similar personality or set of circumstances. Wouldn’t it be nice if the cray-cray is a little less intense next time?
- Because going there give you a chance to know and do differently next time. A small shift can make a difference.
Find the smallest thing that you can to admire, appreciate, or like about your mighty little tyrant. Mixed emotions are welcomed:
“Well, she did have this outrageous spunk — totally out of line in the classroom, the little brat — but she would be fabulous as my defense attorney, if I ever needed one!”
“Dang, if he wasn’t stubborn! Once he made a decision, he followed it through — too bad he missed out on what I could have taught him this year — but man, was he committed!”
And finally, allow yourself a touch of what you’re admiring, appreciating, or liking about the child. In your own adult, grown up, wise and beneficial way, bring some of the child’s spirit into your world. Because maybe what she was trying to show you all along was that a little outrageous spunk every once in a while is not such a bad thing.
Written by Tanya Kelley.