Photo by Depositphotos.com
Photo by Depositphotos.com
It occurs to me that a little respect is what teachers need these days.
I started feeling the slippage of respect for my chosen profession as early as the early 1980’s. Salaries for teachers had already taken a huge hit because of the recession of the 70’s. And in my state, at least, teacher salaries never caught up with the rest of the economy.
Salaries are one way the public displays its lack of respect for teachers. For those who have never taught but think it looks like an easy gig, the salary may even seem inflated. After all, teachers only work “half of the year” which is what one misguided gentleman told me in a Facebook exchange a few days ago. They get their summers off, and they only work 6 hours a day if you only count the face time spent with kids.
But here is the thing that non-teachers don’t understand. You can’t only count the hours spent with kids. A teacher’s duties begin with hours and hours of planning. After the lesson plan has been executed, there are more hours spent in grading and assessing. Then there is more planning to do, not to mention endless meetings and requirements for professional development credit along the way.
Lack of respect from the public is one thing. In recent years, the lack of respect has become more personal. Students disrespect their teachers, and so do their parents.
When I was a child, my father taught me that if I was anywhere where he wasn’t, I was to listen to and respect the adult in charge. If I was on the school bus, that meant I was to listen to and respect the bus driver. If I happened to be at school, that person would be the teacher or the principal. Failing to respect the adult in charge would yield negative consequences.
I always respected my teachers, even when I didn’t always like them. I never talked back…not once. I sometimes disobeyed by talking too much or not paying attention when I should, but if I got caught behaving poorly, I knew better than to complain about it at home. I took my punishment.
It doesn’t work that way anymore. No one respects anyone anymore. We are worse off culturally and socially for it, it seems to me, too. This lack of respect for people and institutions is worrisome. It is doubly worrisome in our schools.
Teachers can’t teach, and children cannot learn if the classroom is in chaos. I know that teachers sometimes possess poor classroom management techniques. It is easy to distinguish the ones who do from the ones who don’t. Stand outside any classroom. Tell-tell signs include yelling, threatening, and a general impression of disorder.
Even the best teachers have trouble with classroom behavior these days, though. I had dinner with a colleague recently. She may be one of the best teachers I have ever known. She shared that she had just had the “worst day of her entire career.”
She had subbed that day. The 3rd graders to whom she had been assigned didn’t have a routine yet–and it was mid-March. She knew she was in for a bad day by 8:30 that morning. She made it through the full day but swore she would never go back to that school or that classroom.
One has to wonder, though. Is the problem with the teacher alone? Or is part of the problem that children are no longer taught to respect the adult in the room anymore? Do they respect their parents? Do they respect anything or anyone?
What I know for sure is that there is a price to pay for not having children respect teachers. In fact, teaching as a profession already feels outdated. It is fast becoming “just a job.”
I am concerned that classrooms of the future are going to run by people who in it for the short term. Teaching will be seen as a temp job until they decide to go back to law school or start a family or start their own business.
I dread that day, but I have to admit, I see it coming. As respect diminishes for teachers and the profession, I see it coming faster and faster.
Until next time.
Photos by Depositphotos.com
3. Applying for anything and everything that you think you might like to do or CAN do. Too many teachers either undervalue or overvalue their transferrable skills. For example, teachers often tell me that they are considering corporate training. That seems to be a good segue from teaching. The trouble is that there is a big difference between teaching 2nd-graders and adults. There is even a big difference between teaching high school kids and adults! Most hiring managers will be leery of hiring anyone without direct training experience. If you would like to be a trainer, make sure to offer some training as a volunteer if you need to. Gain some real-world experience to include on the resume. Taking that initiative signals that you have already branched out into that area. Your success there might predict your future success in a training job. The best approach to changing careers is a strategic one. Think through what it is you want in the future and work your way backward to where you are now. What logical steps should you take to get you to where you want to be? Think of it as a chess game. You need to understand the rules of the game to win.
4. Not understanding how important LinkedIn is to your job search. LinkedIn is currently growing at the rate of 2 new members per second. Headhunters, recruiters, and hiring managers look for talent there. They prefer passive talent–those who are not searching for a job–to active job seekers. If you can build a rock star LinkedIn profile, you move a step closer to finding the job of your dreams. Frame your profile around what it is you want to do next (see #1). Keep the focus more future oriented than past oriented. Highlight your transferable skills rather than on duties and responsibilities. Make sure your photo is professional looking, and don’t forget to customize your URL. Build connections with colleagues as quickly as possible. Get to the 501 mark. Connect with alumni and friends from your personal circle. Look for people that you know who work for companies that you think you might like to work for in the future. You may wind up using LinkedIn connections to get your resume in front of the right people.
People often ask me, “What’s the #1 thing you would say about getting started with a new job search?”
My answer is almost always to ask in return, “What do you want to do next in your career?” It’s shocking how few people can answer that simple question. In fact, in my experience, only two in a hundred can tell me without hesitation what they want to do next in their lives.
They are quick to tell me what they don’t want to do…but few people even let themselves consider what they want. Instead, they focus on what they think they can do or what they believe they can have.
If you are at a career crossroads, it is time to let yourself dream of possibilities! Don’t let anything keep you from considering what you want. Likewise, don’t think of settling for what you think you can have or worse, what you might deserve.
I encourage my clients to forget about the “how” of what they want for the time being. Don’t worry about how to make it happen even if you want something that sounds outrageous. Becoming a coach to teachers suffering from burnout sounded outrageous to me a few years ago. At the end of a lot of soul searching, however, I decided that was exactly what I wanted to do. Once I got past worrying about “how” I just started doing it, and I am still going strong.
Spring has sprung, April is upon us as we are already a week in. Easter is a week away, and for many teachers and students around the country, that means a much needed and well-deserved Spring Break.
Once Spring Break is over, everyone comes back to school with a single purpose in mind: get through the last weeks of school as quickly as possible. I have written before about how some teachers and students begin a countdown until the end of the school year, checking off each day as one day closer to “freedom.”
The hard fact is that teaching is an increasingly stressful occupation. I receive calls every day from teachers all over the country who confess with some chagrin and no small amount of regret that they are experiencing symptoms of burnout. They need to escape, and while I can help in that area, the more immediate concern is what to do about the stress until they can make their getaway?
Because I want to help, I have developed a short course on how to keep your sanity and navigate these final weeks of school with some sense of peace and ease.
Want to know more?
In this short course, I cover 7 specific strategies designed to help you manage your stress more effectively…not just during these final weeks of school, but all the time. The strategies are:
Each module in the short course includes information and instruction along with recommendations and suggested resources selected to help you implement the strategy for the week.
Each module is designed to help highlight areas where teachers, in particular, tend to fall into certain traps.
For example, get a group of teachers together and listen to their conversation. I can guarantee that in less than five minutes, the complaining will start. Not that the complaints aren’t legitimate because I would venture to guess that they probably are. The trouble is that complaining without doing something about the object of the complaint is not only not helpful, but it can also become counterproductive.
The trouble with complaining with a friend about things at work is that it validates your perception of reality, and if you feel aggrieved, it adds to your sense of righteous indignation. Venting can be healthy, but too often, complaints devolve into gossip which can be dangerous and even more counterproductive.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not above gossiping. (I am human, after all.)
I was especially guilty of it when I was teaching, however. The lounge invited gossip of all stripes. Gossip about students, their parents, the principal, and anyone who happened to be out of the room at the time.
Here’s the thing about gossip. While it can seem harmless enough, sometimes, it becomes harmful. Especially if it turns out to be wrong or untruthful, it can certainly hurt the person who is the object of the gossip.
Gossip seems to be built into our DNA. I don’t know anyone who is above engaging in it although my grandmother was pretty good about avoiding it. In fact, I never heard her say a single negative thing about anyone. She would listen silently to a conversation about someone in the community or at church, and invariably, if she did speak, it was to offer something positive about the person in question. But she was the rare exception.
In fact, if you think about it, we thrive on gossip, don’t we? Why is the National Enquirer so popular except that people love the juicy headlines on the cover each week. Even if you don’t buy it, you take a look at the cover as you wait in line at the grocery store, don’t you? Magazines like People and others thrive on gossip about celebrities, and we are eager to hear all the details.
Too often, teachers thrive on gossip about each other. And it is hurtful to the culture of the school in general.
I would like to suggest that one way to better manage your stress between now and the end of the year is to become mindful of your own habit as it relates to gossip…even gossip that seems harmless.
You see, it is not just an empty phrase that mindset is critical to your success or that attitude is everything.
Your attitude creates the frame through which you view your life. If you are constantly on the hunt for something that you can criticize or complain about, you will find plenty of things about which to complain and criticize and you will be extremely unhappy with your life.
During these last few weeks of school, strive to find positive things to say, and look for the positive in each situation that arises. It may feel hard at first. But it will become easier with practice. Changing the way you view things can make a huge difference in your attitude, and once your attitude changes, everything around you changes…like magic.
If you would like to know more about how to manage these final weeks of school with ease, click here and learn more about the program I am offering. It is a great deal as far as your investment of time and money, and it may make a huge difference in how you wind up this school year.
If you are a teacher, you are probably already feeling the pressure of testing time, and it isn’t even April! I have started getting messages from teachers who are too busy to think about what they might want to do next year career-wise. They are in simple survival mode.
And I get it.
During my last 20 years of serving as a library media specialist at the elementary school level, I served two schools. The first school struggled for the first year or two after testing mania took hold in Virginia, but once we figured out what we needed to do and we actually had a curriculum to follow, we got accredited and it was fairly smooth sailing each year. Teachers were concerned, of course, and the spring drill began there just like it does most other places, but nobody was losing sleep worrying about whether the school would meet accreditation standards.
That changed when I changed schools in 2001. I moved from a fairly affluent suburban community to a Title I school with a majority minority population. The year I arrived was the year after the school had finally reached accreditation status after years of being on the state department’s list of “failing schools.”
The photo below sums up how most of my colleagues felt for half of the school year.
In fact, I recall the tension beginning to build as early as February…months before the tests were to be administered. The climate on our campus changed dramatically. You could feel the tension as though it were a palpable substance. Teachers worried…would they be able to get their kids through this year or would we go back to being blacklisted by the state?
I was there for eight years, and that anxiety from February through June never stopped. Each year, teachers and administrators brainstormed new ways of trying to drill the standards into the children so they would pass the standardized tests.
I wasn’t a classroom teacher, so during each spring testing season, I was called upon to proctor. It always made me sad. I watched the teachers fret and the children struggle. The students all knew on some level that the stakes were high. They tried very hard. And each year, from 2001 until I left in 2008, they managed to pass, but that never alleviated the concern that they might not.
This is the time when stress really ramps up for teachers. They begin to lose sleep, staying up late making lesson plans or grading papers, or brainstorming ways to get their kids to understand better what they need to know for the tests.
They begin to eat more because they are stressed out. They begin to forget about exercise. Who has time? They start to gain weight but are too busy to do anything about it.
They leave off getting together with friends for the same reason. They are just too busy and preoccupied to be very sociable.
I get it. I’ve lived it. But here is what I know for sure. Taking on the weight of the world during this season will maybe mean the difference of a point or two on a student’s test, but it could ultimately make you sick.
This is the time of year when you need to take better care of yourself. It is more important now than ever!
I can’t guarantee that you will feel as stress-free as this woman:
But I can guarantee that you will learn some strategies that may help you cope more effectively during these last few months of school.
During this 60-minute class, you will learn more about the seven specific strategies that I recommend for you in the book. These are strategies for you to practice not just during the spring testing season, but all year long. You need to take care of your health! If you wind up sick, what happens to how your students prep for their big tests that are coming up?
Don’t let the testing season bring you down! “Do your best and forget the rest” as Tony Horton says. You need to be present for your spouse and your own children, after all. Heck, your students will be negatively affected if you are stressed out and cranky because you feel overwhelmed with work responsibilities.
Photos by Shutterstock.
Until next time.