I have been out of the classroom – let me start over – I have not been a classroom teacher for over ten years. Technically speaking, as an elementary school assistant principal, I am in and out of classrooms every day. But … there is a huge difference between being in a classroom and running a classroom. Trust me, the increasing degree of difficulty of the latter is not lost on this veteran administrator.
This is why I want to take this time to thank you. And while I couldn’t possibly list all the reasons that I am grateful for what you do, I would like to highlight three that continuously amaze me.
1. We all need to see the doctor, dentist, or chiropractor from time to time—either when we are not feeling well or for wellness check ups for ourselves and our family members. I know that getting and making appointments can be difficult. Some waiting lists are months long. I am also aware of fact that health professionals see patients in the middle of the day.
Yet, you still make dentist appointments at 7 AM so you can get to school before your students arrive. You still take the latest prenatal check ups your doctor has available because your students have a test the next day and there is no way a sub could get them ready to add fractions with unlike denominators. And you still schedule appointments on your days off instead of on days in which school is in session because you want to be there for your students and your colleagues.
2. You are able to stay in one room for pretty much the entire school day. I’ll be honest, I can barely stay in one room for more than 30 minutes without feeling as if I need to take a lap around the building. But day in and day out, when I walk through your room, you’re there. Right now, you’re probably thinking, of course I stay in room, that’s what I’ve always done and that’s all I know. True, but those folks reading this that are no longer in the classroom know exactly what I am talking about.
I don’t know how you do it.
multiple cell phone notifications going off at random times.
I start to sweat just thinking about it.
3. No matter how difficult your day was. No matter how much we continue to pile on your plates. No matter how many students we add to your roster. No matter how often a parent blames you for something their child did.
You come back.
You come back to try that lesson again because on your drive home an idea came to you that you think might just change everything.
You come back because you have several students that are not quite ready to eat lunch in the cafeteria. With all the noise. And the people. And the popular kids. So, they come to your classroom to eat.
You come back because the teacher next door is struggling and you need to be there to help her. Because you know that she is just one lesson, one student, one moment away from becoming a good teacher. And you want to be there to see the look on her face when she does.
Okay teachers, I’ve heaped on a lot of praise on you and it is well-deserved. But there are some things I really wish you would stop doing. Please! I’m asking you, begging you to stop doing these things today.
1. Like any human being, you and your family members are going to get sick. And being sick sucks. When your house is hit by the flu, or you have walking pneumonia (whatever that means) or you have a migraine or you plain feel like crap. Don’t come to school. Don’t think that you have to come to school. And don’t think that we, administrators, expect you to come to school.
Furthermore, please don’t feel as if you need to apologize for staying home to take care of yourself or your loved ones—sometimes both at the same time. Yes, nobody can teach your class as well as you can. Yes, your students will miss you. And yes, writing sub plans stinks. But we want you to take care of yourself and your family. We’ve got everything covered. Or should I say, because this is what really happens, your teammates will make sure your sub plans are written and your class is well taken care of.
2. Don’t worry about that student who was acting out or not responding to your redirection when we were in your room. Yes, he wasn’t listening and yes he disrupted a portion of your lesson. But you did everything you could to get him back on track. To be honest, you showed more patience than we probably would have. We were racking our brain the entire lesson trying to think of what we would have done differently.
There are going to be students that struggle and we are here to help you brainstorm ways to best meet their needs. We will sit with you during those difficult parent conversations and we will have your back when the finger gets pointed at you. Because we are in your rooms and we see what you are doing. We know you are trying everything you can think of and have given first, second and even third chances.
3. Do not apologize for lessons that don’t run as smoothly as planned. We know that you are taking chances. We know you are trying new strategies and it’s not going to be perfect. And we know that you are working hard to create an engaging and enriching classroom environment.
Heck, you are trying techniques and experimenting with strategies that didn’t even exist when were in the classroom. Know that we are here to support you as you take these chances, try new methods and tinker with innovative approaches. We think it’s pretty cool and downright brave to venture away from tradition in the hopes of reaching more students. So, keep at it. We know it’s not always going to be pretty and we’re here to support you when things don’t work out as planned.
More than anything, we want you to know that we see you. And while we may not always say it as often as we should, we think you are pretty damn amazing!
Teachers, I think I can speak for all administrators out there when I say