I sent a quick email to a teacher friend and colleague last week to touch base. I know she’s had a rough-ish time this year with a particularly challenging cohort. She’s a fantastic educator and perhaps one of those teachers who tends to end up with the toughest group due to her ability to connect with damaged kids and to unite incredibly diverse groups of kids.
I finished the email with “So, in a nutshell, how are you doing?”. Her reply was entirely without text and was one picture only. This one …
When I stopped laughing I got to thinking about those moments when we slip from proactive and productive modes of working into pure reaction and, frankly, survival.
Firstly, we shouldn’t be ashamed that these moments occur. You are working with young people whose brains are far from complete in their development. Their reasoning, decision making, response to emotions and ability to delay gratification is extraordinarily compromised by this alone. Students “playing up” is not always a direct relection of your own effectiveness.
Circumstance is what takes us into survival mode – but it isn’t what takes us out of survival mode. Only DECISION can do that for you. The trick is to survive when you must but not to carry that survival mindset any further than need be. Even in Term 4, one bad day need not mean another. The concept of the slippery slope and needing to just survive until the end of the year is a myth.
You may need to rely on some trust and some adept skill under pressure when you are forced to survive. But you’ll still need to do the healthy habitat building and the teaching of social skills to ensure you are not constantly wrangling velociraptors.
Nobody wants to wrangle velociraptors two days in a row – let alone every day.
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