Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recovering from the Holidays

exhaustionIn Is Your Heart Bigger Than Your Hammer? from Tips For New Teachers and Student Teachers, Sam tells us,

“… I would rather be known for the size of my heart, than for the size of my hammer.

If there is any lesson that I could take from this to offer to new teachers, it would be to be easy with the hammer. There will be times when you’ll have to make your point, and follow through with your threats of consequences for poor behavior, but try and take some time to see if there are any underlying reasons why the student is not paying the attention that you require. Could there be something else on the student’s mind, like parents who are in the middle of a divorce, or a recent death in the family, or a mother who is not there?

Be known as the teacher with the big heart, instead of the teacher with the big hammer.

This reminded me that during the holiday season, my students may be going through things that I could never imagine. I need to be sensitive to a wide range of emotions when they return to the classroom.

Many of my students worry about keeping their electric or water on or getting something to eat.

It is cold where I live and many of them do not even have warm coats.

Others may have family members or even themselves dealing with mental illness.

Some may have parents who lost their jobs and getting Christmas presents is a real strain on their budgets.

Some may even be worried about losing their homes.

Some of my students may be dealing with alcohol/drug abuse or other abuses unimaginable.

Even though this was a joyous holiday season for me, not all of my students are feeling the joy. This may come out as acting out behavior or withdrawn behavior.

I know that I sometimes want to make an impression and come down hard on my students during this chaotic time of being back in school. I want to reel them in before they get too over stimulated but I need to do this with a loving hand rather than with a hammer.

I need to make time to spend some personal time with each student so I can get an idea of what they are feeling and how they are dealing with these feelings.

I think it is important to give students the opportunity to talk about their holiday vacation if they need/want to do so. But I would give them different options in order to do this. Some may want to verbally report about their adventures and others may want to write it privately. Either way will be accepted. I see it as a “debriefing” or “venting” so the students don’t keep these feelings bottled up inside of them so they explode. Sometimes this can make a big difference in a student’s behavior.

Do you notice this in your classroom? If so, how do you handle this?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Extreme fatigue' by: Polo

1 comment:

Sioux Roslawski said...

I have a real hammer (a foam one) and when I get it down, the kids love it. I will "hammer" them on the head (playfully) to get their attention. It's a way of injecting a bit of levity into the lesson and getting them back on track in a light way.

You are so right. Kids today are dealing with so many issues; many of the problems they face every day are problems that would slay us (who are adults) and yet they come to school every day instead of lying down and surrendering.

Great post to remind us of a part of our job that is NOT measured via a state test...