Hey teachers, let’s get real: our jobs are terrifying. Student success falls (partially) on our shoulders, and often we don’t have the tools to 100% make sure that happens. Fostering loving, literate, critical minds is an experiment that never concludes. Education industry and legislature increase tomfoolery on a daily basis, and often we struggle to take care of our own needs during the academic year. *So much* can weigh us down.
However, we have the extremely unique opportunity to witness and interact with unspeakable abundance on a daily basis. Ultimately it is up to us to either live curiously in abundance or stifled with fear in our profession. We have the power to transform distress into eustress before it hammers our bodies and minds with detriment. Avoid backing yourself into a corner by considering how you can shift the way your view your profession, and begin teaching from abundance.
1. Shift the Language with which you describe students. Instead of “limited English proficiency,” describe them as bilingual. Instead of “dyslexic,” view them as problem solving. Instead of “attention-seeking,” consider “connection-seeking.” Though their paperwork isn’t likely to change soon, the way we treat them and describe them in our spheres of control can.
2. Open Yourself to the Possibility of students knowing how to best show their voice. Open yourself to receive the unique ways in which they can show mastery of a task. Do you want them to understand a large concept like justice? Can they show you they understand that concept in ways other than an essay? Awesome. Accept it.
Furthermore, give them time to talk. The most important lessons I learn in life come from the kids. They have incredible things to say, and aren’t fully aware yet of the restrictions society throws our way. Without these limiting beliefs, they see worlds of endless possibility. For them, it’s possible for them to change the school, the community, and the world to work in their favor. Open yourself to their verdant possibility, clear obstacles for them, and see where their work can go.
3. Question Structure we see as traditional or normal. Does it make sense to have a late work policy? Does it make sense to assign homework? Does it make sense to restrict bathroom use? Do kids have to sit in a desk to learn? Imagine a world where everything is negotiable. What would you cut out?
4. Clarify the Classroom to make way for prosperity. This year, I removed everything from my walls that didn’t serve a specific, obvious, and worthwhile purpose. I try to remove filler language from my speech (ie: we are going to…take a moment to…) and embrace silence as an answer to a question proposed. Teach with intention and care, and students will respond in kind.