As Christmas Break draws near and students begin studying for the end of the year tests, classroom stress and student lethargy are on the rise. This time of year can be taxing on both students and teachers alike, and it’s easy to forget that there is a bigger picture. Remembering what makes teaching so rewarding is a great way to reduce stress and to reflect on the high points of the school year thus far.
Students that enter the classroom come from a multitude of backgrounds and situations. The one thing that all of them have in common is that they sit in the same classroom Monday through Friday to learn. Every day of instruction is preparation for the future. Perhaps a student who goes on to join an engineering program at a four-year university will remember little from her eleventh grade English class. However, the subject that an instructor teaches is not the only thing they have to offer. One of the results of interacting with the same students for nine months is that they not only learn math, or history, but also personal lessons that will help determine the people they are going to be. The way that teachers treat and interact with students can provide them with examples of what respect, patience, and integrity look like in the day-to-day world. Students may not remember the quadratic formula in five years, but they will probably be able to recall the way a certain teacher made them feel, or a personal anecdote that a teacher shared. Students in the classroom not only have the potential to become better scholars, but better people as well. Teachers are some of the most impactful people in students’ lives, and watching their journey through academia is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching
Teaching is not a one-way street, as students are not the only ones that learn in the classroom. As a teacher, it can be easy to fall into a strict routine and rigid structures in which the answer key holds the ultimate knowledge. However students— especially with the right type of instruction— are capable of surprising things. Some students may not be well acquainted with Newton’s Laws or how to create a works cited page, but they do offer a wealth of experiences. It can be unexpected when a student has prior knowledge on a yet to be taught subject, but it’s even more surprising when as students offers up a piece from their personal history. Moments of sharing and vulnerability may be few and far between for the majority of the year, but these moments of connection often shift a teacher’s view from seeing a student simply as a student, to seeing them as a person.
End of the year stress is enough to make any teacher irritable, anxious, or both. However remembering the great things about being a teacher can help to lighten the mood in the classroom. While teaching certainly has its drawbacks, it is perhaps one of the most rewarding careers. As Christmas approaches don’t forget to appreciate the great things about being a teacher!