Ever wonder why someone would choose to be a teacher? How can they keep coming back every day to deal with hoards of children climbing on them, asking for things, and antagonizing each other?
The teachers we met have all kinds of different answers, from wanting to help students become better adults, to wanting to form close connections with the students, to striving to make a difference in the world, one life at a time. No matter the reason, one thing is clear: we’ve watched teachers continue to go above and beyond every day as they help young students through the pandemic, and their lives.
It can be especially hard dealing with infants in daycare or preschool children. From tantrums to constant energy, little kids can be a challenge to keep up with. Although many people would say being with and caring for children can be an enjoyable experience, being a teacher is not necessarily what most would call a relaxing, easy-going position. Add in the pandemic aftermath with online demands and zoom calls and it’s arguably one of the most stressful jobs on the planet right now. Most teachers have made it look easy, working to be patient and help children manage thoughts and emotions during an unprecedented time where we as adults may not even understand our own.
Let’s remember that childcare and teaching children involves quite a bit more than just handling tantrums and naps.
Some of the expectations of caregivers:
- Showing care so that the children learn early that affection and love are healthy.
- Gently disciplining so that the children can start to develop a sense of right and wrong.
- Educating themselves so that they understand milestones and can guide children through them.
- Embracing that kids don’t always mean to frustrate or make you angry. They usually want attention and to be taught or engaged.
- Being comfortable creating consistency for other humans and managing sudden changes.
These attributes are ones of teachers whom genuinely enjoy the time they spend with their children. Learning technical skills may arguably be the most crucial part of schooling, but being in nurturing relationships and providing a safe space allows children to flourish and learn. It’s not just preschool teachers, but all teachers that provide this care for their students – from daycare to college.
Most, if not all, teachers develop close relationships with their students over the years. Whether it’s helping them through a challenging subject or just being there when they were going through a tough time, teachers’ experiences of contribution to their students often stay with them for the rest of their lives. Kids often show you that although you are the teacher, they as students can teach you more than imagined.
Teachers of adolescents can sometimes find it hard to remember that there is anything other than snark and sarcasm. But beyond all that, there is fun in teaching tweens and teens in the classroom: the way they are so uninhibited yet shy about life; the way they are finding themselves as you help guide them; the way they are exploring relationships and ways to communicate. As a role model, the students look to you, their teacher, for a safe space, advice, a guide, and a friend. Maybe that is why you come back every day. Perhaps for you, that is what makes all the work worth it.
It can become hectic and stressful to work as a teacher, but luckily there are lots of ways to help you relax and decompress. Meditation can change the entire dynamic of your attitude, and even if you are a beginner or do not know where to start, there are easy ways to help guide you. (PS: The Calm app is one method, and it’s even offered free to teachers.) Meditation can help you stress less, sleep better, and approach your day with excitement rather than dread. Or, try going for a walk, which is statistically proven to change your mindset.
The key for teachers during the next few months as we transition from school to summer and back to “new school” again, is to remember that there are many ways to relax and detach from pandemic related stress. Whether that’s an ancient remedy or new age solution, inding the right one for you and caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your students. It is true, after all, that you cannot help others if you do not help yourself.
We found stories of all kinds of teachers who had something to say about the love forged by authentically connecting with their students during the pandemic. One teacher in our network is Marianna Brown, a local Denver teacher, who said “Teaching children has been the joy of my life, and although the pandemic has made it difficult to connect in person, learning all the creative ways the children are expressing themselves is a lot of fun.”
All students, no matter what it may seem like, need someone to look out for them and as a teacher that becomes one of your roles. It can be frustrating and challenging a lot of the time even when we’re not dealing with new pandemic restrictions, but the differences that teachers are making in the lives of their students during this time will set the stage for education later. Being an example of strength for a student who is struggling right now could make a bigger impact than you could imagine – like the flapping of butterfly wings causing a tsunami. So to our teachers: please keep going back every day, every week, every month. One day in our post pandemic world, that young child you teach today will have used your help to become a successful, amazing adult impacting others. Maybe they will create the cure for COVID-19. Maybe they will run the World Health Organization. Maybe they will care for children. You are influencing our next generation of problem solvers, the ones that will teach because of you.
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