Saturday, March 19, 2016
What's Your Warning Label?
I require a warning label.
I recently had a discussion with a friend about warning labels on foods and household products which eventually led to us pondering the warning labels that would help us better understand our students.
"I didn't sleep last night (so I'm sorry I put my head down during independent work today)"
"I don't know where my next meal is coming from (so I'm sorry if don't have a pencil when I arrived in class)"
"Someone sold my meds (so I'm sorry I can't focus today and the next month until I can get a refill)"
"My dad got arrested last night (so I'm sorry your assignment wasn't my first priority)"
"I stay home to take care of my siblings (so I'm sorry I miss school a lot)"
There are some more complicated ones than that, but, unfortunately, they are all too similar. The point I want to make is there are things below the surface that we don't experience, that we don't see or know about unless our students trust us and open up. Some of my students I would know right away, others I can only guess.
Teachers have warning labels too. We wear many hats, so ours are big labels. Here's mine, both as a teacher and a person.
"I understand I'm not always the easiest person to deal with. I set high expectations for myself and those around me because I want to be the best version of myself. I'm stubborn and I talk too much. My impatience could occasionally be described as self-destructive. I sometimes dig too deep in my quest to understand nuances in daily life. Just because I don't shout my daily successes from the rooftops doesn't mean I'm not happy. I stand by my friends through thick and thin. I offer help to strangers stranded on the side of the road. I play the role of "parent" to many of my students, even when carrying their stories and burdens threatens to break me emotionally. My good qualities far outweigh the bad. I'll still be willing to help you, friend or not, student or not, on your worst day, but I'll understand if you're not there for me on mine.
I require a warning label, but only because I care too much instead of not enough."
And at its core, the same can be said about most of my students. They just have different ways of showing it.
What's your warning label? How are you a different teacher because of it?