How do you still love teaching?

because there is always light over the horizon, even when the river seems frozen. Image by me, available on flickr. Click to view source.

because there is always light over the horizon, even when the river seems frozen. Image by me, available on flickr. Click to view source.

Yesterday a friend and I had an email conversation on facebook. She has given me permission to reproduce it here.

friend: how do you still love teaching?
I’m in another tough school, and am starting to wonder if kids are just “like this” everywhere. i know they have issues, but they are incredibly rude, apathetic, and just MEAN to each other. the admin chatted with me today and basically told me to forget the curriculum, and as long as they’re not beating down the walls, it’s ok. wtf?

Ii don’t know how to ‘grab’ them. I’m teaching 7 language arts, and 7,8,9 PDR (personal development and relationships), which they don’t have to pass, and they know that, so they don’t care.
any ideas? or just hope in general ;)

me: give them a reason to not be mean.
give them some hope.

Maybe you do need to forget the curriculum for a bit, to get them caring again. But not for too long. They reach for the bar we have for them. If it is low, their reach is low as well.

Practical ideas? Hmmm…start by identifying the ONE major disrupt – the one kid who, if he/she isn’t there the class is a bit smoother. And spend time with him. Find out what he/she needs to keep occupied in class.

The one big idea I learned from Cliff [former principal of a school we worked at together about 4 years ago] – occupy them or they will occupy you.

What helps me sometimes is writing about it – a blog is great because you can get some feedback with the comments.

Let me know how things go :)
I still love teaching because of the challenge :) Beause there is no better place to learn about human relationship…

These are all the things that I know, but I don’t know how to do it.
I hate spending all my time planning and trying to come up with ideas that don’t work. I want to make things relevant, I want them to care, I want it to be safe, I want it to be FUN. I don’t know how to put all of that together into something that doesn’t look like chaos.

I guess I have to remember too, that this is my first time in a junior high classroom in a public school. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But I’m exhausted and so, so, so frustrated already. So many people are trying to help me with the ‘what to do’ – the things that i already know – but not the ‘how to do’ – which is what i need. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. There are good ideas floating around, I just need some more time to figure out how to implement them. maybe i just need to accept that this is going to be a rough year, and the next one will be a little bit easier.
Maybe a blog is a good idea….
Thanks :)

me: – don’t go with…very inconsistent!


Are you able to go visit other classrooms? Sometimes an hour in someone else’s classroom makes all the difference.

Setting Limits in the Classroom – a GREAT book for management.

All kids, but more so for middle school kids, need loads of structure to feel safe and to be able to be productive. Make sure they know what is ahead for them. When they walk into the room, be at the door, handing out a mini-assignment to do right away. Then have the agenda on the board for them to see.

Blog blog blog about what works, what doesn’t. Visit my blogroll to see other bloggers/teachers who are doing great things.

In particular I want to teach forever, so you want to teach, teachers at risk, The Jose Vilson, dy/dan, Science Teacher, ..oh, they’re all good…

friend: I will look at that again… the mini assignment at the door is a good idea. I’ve been doing the agenda on the board – most of them notice it ;)
I’m spending all my preps this week in other classes – I know most teachers are having the same problems as I am -if nothing else, maybe the visits will help me not to be so hard on myself.
it’s fine if you blog about our chat – and jacq is over 40 as well ;) [in reference to my comment to her friend Jacq’s comment on her wall about 42 being THAT old ;)]

So everyone, I promised that my blogroll rocked. Prove it …

a) Can you give and/or point my friend and any others toward advice when it comes to the reality of teaching in a class like this? In particular practical, tangible advice that she can use in her classroom?
b) How do you still love teaching when it can be SO hard and disheartening at times?

Because there is always light over the horizon…even when the ground seems frozen.


  • Tracy says:

    Mike, one thing we often forget is that children are experts at traditional methods of control and coercion – they’ve been seeing it modeled long enough!

    I have Haim Ginot’s quote on the wall of my classroom where I can see it every day. I need to remember that, even though they do thrive in a classroom of cooperation, students are used to coercion and control and I need to be patient as they are ‘untrained’ so to speak and get used to a new teaching style.

    In other words, it can take weeks, even months, for some students to respond to a classroom environment other than coercion and control. My job is to remain patient and consistently show that I am always there for them, that I am fair, that they can count on me. voila.

  • mike says:

    Hi Trace…. hope this finds you well!

    After years and i mean years of playing with this stuff in a very serious way :) Here is some thoughts:

    Tobin puts us on a different path:

    Control is not the most pressing issue in classrooms! Most classroom management systems still look to use coercion as a way to get kids to do stuff.

    Your most pressing issue is your ability to generate…….

    Think: Who do i really cooperate with and why?
    How do i beging to get kids to cooperate with me?

    The misbehavior of troubled children is seldom what it first appears to be. Understanding this, I believe, is the only place to start. No child has a need to create a life of conflict. (L. Tobin)

    If you are drawn to education, and if you enjoy a challenge, there is no greater challenge than to walk alongside a troubled child and to help her see a better world. ( L. Tobin )

    He’s Violent, you say.
    Perhaps. But imagine what it takes for a child to strike an adult- his only source of survival. Imagine the depth of terror behind this bravado- Imagine the depth of hurt.
    (L. Tobin)

    There is something about the eyes of abused children- a depth, a darkness, an absence of spirit. Scan any classroom and you will find those eyes. Scan any classroom and they will find you. (L. Tobin)

    The hurt that troubled children create is never greater than the hurt they feel. ( L. Tobin )

    Troubled children do not conceal their emotions well. They have a raw and disconcerting honesty. Perhaps that’s why we call them difficult. ( L. Tobin )

    To recognize and meet the needs of troubled children, you must recognize and meet the needs with-in yourself.
    (L. Tobin)

    CONSISTENCY is the key component when working with troubled kids. But consistency is far more than just a rigid application of rules. What troubled children need consistently is to feel your openness and caring, your heart touching theirs. ( L. Tobin )

    One of the greatest benefits in working with troubled children is that you get to live at the edges of your competence and discover that they are not fixed.
    ( F. A. Fecser )

    Hang in there if you are having difficulty…
    use it to drive you learning!

    Looking back troubled kids have been a major growth producer in my life.

    Don’t wait for others to tell you how to do this work… go find it…learn it…make it yours….

    Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. ( Parker Palmer )

    Good teaching requires self-knowledge:
    it is the secret hidden in plain sight.( Parker Palmer )

    “I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate; it’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture, or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated or a child humanized or dehumanized.” ( Haim Ginott )

    BE WELL… mike

  • Casey says:

    Read Harry Wong’s “First Days of School” He has been teaching for many many years and now in his retirement he goes around and gives seminars about how to become an effective teacher. He deals with many of the issues you are having. And he’s very funny. His principles are based on three things. Positive Expectations, Classroom Management, and Lesson Mastery. The things he writes about really make you go ohhhh, so that’s how to do it. Read it!

  • Carole Lindsay says:

    Hi Tracy,

    This is a wonderful idea particularly for new teachers who need a chance to experiment and feedback without the fear of being judged for what the new teacher often perceives as inadequacies on their part. We lose too many enthusiastic new teachers because there is insufficient direct support to them. Encouraging reflective feedback on what worked well, what would make it even better is a positive way to channel frutiful experimentation. Keep up the good work!

  • Frumteacher says:

    Great post! I think we are all struggeling with these kind of problems.

    What works for me:

    ~ Give positive attention WHENEVER you can. When a (problem) student is on time, when he gives a good answer, when his behaviour is better than in the previous class, anything will do.

    ~ Give hyperactive students special chores such as distributing handouts.

    ~ I love to start my class with a 5-10 minute examination in which I ask one student questions about the material they had to learn. This way, the room will be totally quiet which make it easier to get started.

    ~ It’s true. Blogging really really helps!

    PS. Tracy, where do you get all those beautiful images that go with your blog posts?

    Frumteachers last blog post at [site]..Financial crisis

    • Tracy says:

      @Frumteacher, Great advice – noticing and recognizing student needs, whether it be the need for validation or movement, is a biggy.

      The image for this post is one of mine :) I took it about 2 years ago on a cold morning while walking my dog. It felt right for this post. Either I use one of my own images or I do a search for creative commons images with SpinXpress –>

  • sweetleaf says:

    wow… that’s cool stuff…outta the tunnel into the light. glad to hear the feel of a better way, for you jenn. seems like you’re almost at a 360 from where this started. from nowhere to anywhere! way to go. i love watching the creating of our own realities and learning what it takes to do so. thank you tracy and jenn (and all on this post) for letting me part of a solution process by the sharing of experience and thoughts that took place here. if i may say so…f’n cool.

  • Jenn says:

    So. After reading all of the inspirational comments left on Tracy’s blog after she posted our conversation, I thought maybe it would be therapeutic to start a blog of my own, I just haven’t had the urge to write in it yet.
    I’m taking a day tomorrow to stay home and plan, and try to re-organize my head. The suggestions have been very useful, mostly for changing my own attitude toward myself.
    Unfortunately what I’ve learned is that administration is not who you turn to for meaningful support. Fortunately, we do have an incredibly supportive staff, and we’ve been working together to be consistent in our classrooms with respect to code of conduct (which is supposed to be school wide according to PEBS policy), consequences and positive behavior reward systems. It’s nice to be doing what everyone else is doing in that way – I don’t feel as alone and the kids have some consistency.
    I feel like I painted a really crappy picture of the kids that I teach. 98% of them are great, and the others really are just miserable. I can’t change that but I can try to understand.
    I’m going on a camping trip with the grade 7s and 8s for 3 days. There should be some relationship building happening there! I’m going to try to start fundraising with the grade 9s for their end of year trip (and hopefully I’ll be able to ‘chaperone’ since they are heading back to my favorite city in Canada!), I’ve been attending a few of the games, will chaperone the dances, and have agreed to be the staff member responsible for supervising the GSA in our school. Those are steps, right? I know they are – I know what I have to do, I have ideas now on how to implement what I have to do. Now, it’s just creating more hours in my day (goodbye, snooze…)

    Jenns last blog post at [site]..

    • Tracy says:

      @ Jenn
      Sounds to me like you are reaching out to the kids as a person, like you are realizing the value in community, like you are figuring out how things work in your school – all big stuff.

      Can’t wait to read your blog posts.

      Hang on…you’re coming to Montreal with a group of kids at the end of the year? Whoop whoop! Keep in touch about that – maybe we can hook up. Our kids are involved in leadership activities all year long. It could be cool to host some kind of activity for you and your kids. When is it planned?

      @ Sweatleaf – here you are :)

      @ Jose – can’t wait to read what you have to say on this!

      @ Chris – I so agree with setting expectations high. Too often the issue is that kids know not much is expected of them, so they act accordingly.

    • Miss Teacha says:

      @Tracy After reading all of this I was EAGER to read Jenn’s blog. What happened to it? Is she still around? Is she still teaching

  • sweetleaf says:

    i’m wondering how our teacher is doing? i hope she is in touch with all this. does she realize she is teaching us all and thank you tracy for the classroom :)

  • Jose says:

    Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man … I gotta remember this post. I’ll be linking this soon.

    Joses last blog post at [site]..A Message To Latinas, Remastered

  • Chris says:

    I agree with the idea that you should look for someone to collaborate with or someone you could trust to act as a mentor. Your admin is obviously a disappoint and lacking in supportive suggestions.

    Something to keep in mind even this early in the school year – set your expectations for your classroom. Make them reasonable, accountable, but also high enough to challenge your students daily. Then stick to them!! I teach in a low socio-economic elementary school, but see great things everyday under incredibly difficult circumstances because my kids know I care and that I believe they can accomplish more than the mediocre.

    Hang in there. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

  • Pat says:

    I taught in a stuation like this for years and one way I made headway is by calling students’ homes every 2 weeks to brag on them. Many of them are in such a rut of getting attention for negative behavior, that I tried to change the cycle. It took time but soon they knew I was sincere about caring about them. They started paying attention better in class because if they were not behaving, I would not call home. It also helped me look for the good behaviors instead of the bad so I guess it changed my point of view. Sometimes while they were working on individual assignments, I would take a student who made some positive gains and have him/her come up to my desk so we could call a parent right then so I could brag about them. The more I bragged to the parent, the happier the parents who bragged about their child who ended up working harder for me. By Christmas, I was having very little behavior problems and the admins were surprised. Without the behavior problems, I was able to teach effective lessons that were even fun.

    Pats last blog post at [site]..The Welcoming Committee

  • sweetleaf says:

    again some awesome direction with hope, and ways for approach. i like the teacher collaboration idea. there must be some successful classrooms for these kids in this school? can you talk to other teachers that could maybe help you with particular students or situations. don’t take what happens as and affront to you, but see if the experience has heart. this is a class about relationships, and this should be a topic of interest to this age, and should give you something to work from. have faith the interest is there. stuff being thrown around and or at a target, is part of a dynamic, even though distracting, can’t be because of you. how do the other teachers handle this? send them to the principal and let them know it is not personal but policy. then let the principal handle it as their job. it kind of sounds like you’re defeating yourself before you even get in the door? (work on your strongest reaction first). a law of physics is something to the effect that energy attracts like energy. you will find your way. if the principal is of no use, don’t waste time there. look for the good. it is there. when something doesn’t work let it go to find what does. don’t forget to breath. this could be a good time and place for the serenity prayer maybe. keep in mind what mr. smith stated about it being a process. look for the good. partner up with those who are seeing “success” in their classes? look for the good.

    • Tracy says:

      “if the principal is of no use, don’t waste time there. look for the good. it is there.”

      Definitely, the good is always there. It can sometimes be so well hidden that it seems not to be…but it IS there!

  • Phil Smith says:

    How could you not take it personally? Teaching is a job where we invest ourselves. As an admin. type I treat my staff in the manner I treated my students. I look for your strengths, successes and build on those. Any fool is able to tell you what you do wrong. a perceptive professional seeks to guide others to what they do well. The engagement/fun will come, really it will, as will the great lessons. Your rant shows how bright and articulate you are, use that. Passion can never be replaced. We need people like you who DO take it personally to teach our kids. Make it easy on you. Decide what the learning targets are every day and tell them at the start of the period. Move through them. Use the Got it, Getting it, Gonna Have it scale( no one fails including you) If you got it go work with someone who is gonna have it,or do enrichment. If you are getting it they work with you. Make the little devils your allies. They want to be so use that to your advantage.

    You have identified that you are using procedures and that is half the battle. The other half is internal. Do you believe in you enough to motor on? I do and I don’t know you at all except for the material on this blog. You WILL be okay. By the by I never taught a day of middle school either but I was a fair to middlin principal in my day.(Actually, I thought I was awesome)

    Let me end with this thought/observation. Do you expect your students to get it all right on the first day, week, month? Or do you believe it is a process of continually getting better each day? I bet it is the latter. So why are you beating yourself up for not living up to a standard you would never hold anyone else to? Because you have a pinhead for a principal? ( Deeep Sigh) It happens so don’t let it beat you. All my best wishes and thoughts go out to you. Stay Strong Teach Long

    • Tracy says:

      Such powerful, powerful observations.
      Make them your allies – so simple, so integral. Yet many teachers DO have a me against them mindset. And it can be easy to adopt when it seems like the period will never end.
      thanks for the comments.

  • Tracy says:

    Sometimes everyone needs a break. Good thing the run is tomorrow. Can you show a movie on Friday? Something like the Terry Fox story or Pay it Forward. You need time to regroup before hitting at it again. Or maybe a sick day is in order…for the same reason. There is nothing wrong with taking time off when it is necessary.

    Your principal sounds like…a piece of poo. What is she doing to help you besides give you negative feedback? Not too supportive!! Is there a VP who may be of help? Is there a teacher at the school you can go to, who can act like a mentor for you?

    Man. I have this idea brewing about collaborative PD. Connecting teachers to teachers – not through the internets (we can SO easily get caught in the internets :) ) but through each others classrooms. We need to see how others are in their classrooms. Teaching can be so isolating. I’ve already made arrangements to spend time in a math teacher’s classroom at my school. I’m teaching grade 10 math REFORM! At a loss myself, so I’m reaching out to others in my school. I hope you can do the same.

    Despite what I said about the internet, there is GREAT stuff in the pages of teachers who have commented here. I hope you can take some time to visit the links they provided.

    Big hug, Jenn. Big, big hug.

  • Jenn says:

    What’s really eating me is that I feel ok – until admin steps through my door.
    I’m told to do one thing, I do it, and then I’m told that’s the wrong thing to do. e.g. sending kids to the office for throwing things at each other (entire erasers, staplers). Unacceptable in a classroom in my books. Is it not supposed to be safe for everyone? having something thrown at the back of your head (regardless of whether it bounces or not) is not safe – physically or emotionally. the office, for some reason, has decided that their behavior is my fault, for not engaging them enough. i haven’t fully immersed them in something wonderful enough to distract them from throwing objects, or swearing at each other.
    I was actually told by my principal today (who has never taught anything but primary) that my lesson was boring, the kids were bored out of their heads. We are talking about cancer. We started with a quick quiz about Terry Fox, since our run is tomorrow, and then talked about it. She stayed for that bit, but not the discussion we had, nor the assignment that they were given afterwards.
    So, knowing this, I should feel ok. But I don’t. I feel like the world’s shittiest teacher. This is my first time in a long time being in a classroom, and we’re (my 6 classes and I) just trying to get into a routine, and become comfortable with each other. Is it reasonable to get angry with me and say degrading things when I am just learning the curriculum, learning the ropes of the particular school (a rough school in a crime-ridden area of the city), and getting to know the kids? Should I have amazing lessons already? Those ideas don’t come naturally to me like they do to others. I’m consumed with just trying to come up with enough to occupy them, so they don’t occupy me. And positive behavior plans. I’m exhausted. I don’t feel that it’s fair to expect so much from me so soon.
    I know that some of the behavior IS that some of the material isn’t particularly engaging (or the way that I’ve presented it); but a lot of these classes aren’t ready for the freedom that I’m being expected to give them.
    I just feel lost.
    And sick to go back. Not because of the kids, or the job, but because of how stepping into that building makes me feel.
    Maybe I just need to develop more confidence. I take things too personally.
    That was a rant.

    • Dr. Jan says:


      I have specialized in urban educaiton for my entire career. It’s tough.

      Step one: learn classroom management. Do the SIMS classroom with Ruby Payne

      Step two: YOU are in charge of your classroom. Have a problem? Do what the adminstrators do… call the parents and ask for help. There is no one that will save you. YOU must learn to do what it takes to engage the classroom and fix the problems. Administration is for CRAZIES… like gun toting, drug folks. .. the rest, you learn to deal with.

      Step three: It’s okay. Don’t give up. No one has the answers during the first six weeks… I cried every day during my planning period. You CAN do this… hang on. The difference between success and failure is DESIRE. Do it!

      Dr. Jans last blog post at [site]..Daisy Rae Responds

    • lisa says:

      DaisyRae’s advice is excellent: The difference between success and failure is DESIRE. I have been in education for 24 years, most of these years have been spent in challenging schools-I did not look to my administrators to fix any problem I encountered in my classroom-but instead looked at myself. Be honest with your students. Let them know that you are not meeting their needs and that you are going to be video-taping your instruction. Share with them that they deserve high-quality instruction and that you want to bring that to them, and by observing your instruction, and their interactions with you in the classroom you will learn more about how to meet their “learning” needs. You will be amazed about how much you learn about yourself and your students. It is safe, because it is just you viewing it. If you feel like you can take a risk, find a colleague who you value the opinions of, and is successful in the classroom and ask if he/she might view your tapes with you, and engage in discourse that helps you plan for change.
      Another suggestion-try and learn more about your students. What motivates and interests them in the classroom. How do they learn best? As you show greater interest in them as students, they will begin to show greater interest in you, and become more engaged in the work because you are trying to make it connect with them. Good luck, and don’t lose faith in the power of good teaching. If you really want to be successful, you will! Sometimes administrators will act in less than helpful ways to push a teacher out the door. It is easier for them to get you to quit, than it is to help you to grow. Don’t let your principal win.

      • Tracy says:

        This deserves repeating:

        “Another suggestion-try and learn more about your students. What motivates and interests them in the classroom. How do they learn best? As you show greater interest in them as students, they will begin to show greater interest in you, and become more engaged in the work because you are trying to make it connect with them. Good luck, and don’t lose faith in the power of good teaching. If you really want to be successful, you will! Sometimes administrators will act in less than helpful ways to push a teacher out the door. It is easier for them to get you to quit, than it is to help you to grow. Don’t let your principal win.”

  • sweetleaf says:

    i don’t know that i have any how to’s…but (as you are doing) i think by asking and looking for a better way is the way to find it. you are asking at the right time, being at the beginning of the year. it sounds like it will be a year of learning for you too? that’s cool. you all have to be there for the best outcome for all concerned, so is it possible to include them in the creating of the curriculum, give them some of the responsibility? let them see it is their class? they probably will give you amazing insight into pdr at (especially) that age? the greatest challenges have the greatest rewards? defined boundaries for respectful interaction is always appreciated…not just rules, (meant to be broken?). does asking them questions help? let them know you are human and on their side? keep it simple, find a solution one “problem” at a time. recognize and even celebrate your successes. make adversity a path of awakening, work with whatever you encounter, let the remedy release naturally… i dunno, these are my very random thoughts, sounds like you got really good direction given already. trust you are in the right place at the right time, or exactly where you are suppose to be or…i think it is awesome you get to experience this age of student. it has to be one of the toughest to work with and so can be equally satisfying…i guess- don’t expect thanks either? :)

    • Tracy says:

      I love how you changed perspective – they are all awesome people (and I don’t know these kids, they live hundreds and hundreds of km away, but they’re kids, so they’ve got to be). It can be a great – though overwhelming at times – experience to work with them for sure!

  • Joel says:

    Hey! Thanks for the recommendation to go visit my blog So You Want To Teach?

    I have been contacted a handful of times by teachers who seem to be in similar positions. The names, administration, places, and faces change; but the story is pretty much the same.

    A few months ago, I wrote an article in response to one such request and thought it might be helpful.

    On The Brink of Quitting

    I also have just recently begun writing a series called 10 Things I Wish I Knew As A First Year Teacher that may have prove helpful.

    Basically what changed me from being beaten up emotionally all the time to being in control of my classroom was an absolute change of mindset.

    I went from being the facilitator of chaos to being the benevolent dictator of Joel’s world. I was caring, but I also took personal responsibility for everything that went on in the classroom. If things went well today, it was something I did right. If things didn’t go well today, it was something I did wrong.

    Not entirely true, but the black-and-white approach worked wonders for me. I went from blaming kids to blaming me and my system. As I did that, I realized that my system was inherently flawed.

    I would tell kids they were wrong, they would tell me they were right. I began arguing with them. Big mistake. When you argue with a kid, nobody wins. I may end up forcing my will, but the rebellion is still underlying their obedience.

    Read my blog for more stuff. Dig through the archive. Click on the “Related Articles” and follow the ones that look interesting. Add comments and let me know what else I can do to help!

    Joels last blog post at [site]..Networking To Save Your (Teaching) Life

  • Ah, this is a tough issue when things are swirling out of control. A few thoughts:

    1) You can never know just what effects you are having on your children–in a positive classroom, positive things happen, but not always right away. It is still very, very early in the year. By middle school, students are professionals. They have trusted others, and they have been hurt.

    2) Love, agape, whatever.

    3) Structure, structure, structure. I like Fred Jones (Tools For Teaching), but it really doesn’t matter who you adapt. Kids crave structure. Especially kids who cannot trust their own impulses.

    4) Love. Agape. Whatever. It’s real, it works. Can’t fake it. If you don’t like teaching, and a lot of people don’t, get out. If you don’t like young adolescents and a lot of people don’t, get out.

    5) Tangible advice? Keep things moving, keep them occupied, keep them thinking, keep them occupied, and all the rest of that, but never forget that they are kids, and keep on keeping them occupied. Think of them as embryos, if that helps (it helps me). Kids like success. I keep forgetting this. Real success–not the pat on the head for drooling like a cute puppy, but real success. Not building the pyramids type of success, but some sort or real accomplishment. School (mostly) sucks. Really. Reduce its suckiness.

    6) Love, agape, whatever.

    7) Here’s the big sekrit….experience matters. I’m in my third year in public school (and I taught medical students for years before that) and I am only now just starting to figure out what to do. Some days are going to be disasters. Kids know this. It’s OK if you know this, too.

    8) Agape.

    9) Understand that you are going to be immersed in an incredibly intense world. It is a profession in a field that has many who do not realize this (at least in this part of the biosphere). You are going to get better IF you pay attention. And if you pay attention, the year will get easier, because the kids know when people are paying attention.

    10) Um, lessee, agape?

    11) Hang in there. Really. Unless you don’t like kids. Your presence matters. This is hard work. Really. Hard. Work. A lot of people fake it. Kids will test you if you are not faking it, because you are someone worth testing. No challenge in testing those who phone it in. You will be exhausted. Exhaustion is not healthy, true, but neither is it a sign of incompetence. I spent years exhausted as a decent physician. I hope to spend a few more years exhausted as a decent teacher. In both fields there is a steep learning curve.

    12) Agape. Love. And a friend like Tracy. And a student like Kyle. Or Brian. Or Shaniece. Or Carlos. Or Alexis. Or Luis. Or Camille. Or any of the otherwise anonymous children passing through your halls.

    Give Tracy a call. An occasional good cry helps, too.

    Michael Doyles last blog post at [site]..Mr. Clam goes to BHS

  • Tracy,

    Teaching is definitely a challenging job, and we need to support one another as much as possible.

    One the best bits of advice I could give is that a positive attitude is key to a positive classroom.

    I invite you to read the post I wrote about it. Just click on the following link. The classroom agreements of mutual respect, attentive listening, appreciation and the right to pass set the tone. I’ve created a slideshow about the classroom agreements that I’ve shared with lots of people. If you would like a copy, I can send it to you.

    Elona Hartjess last blog post at

    • Tracy says:

      I personally would love a copy. I’m sure Jenn could use a look at it too. (though she may be starting to get overwhelmed with all of the great thoughts she is getting here ;) )

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