Thursday, 16 July 2009

On bad days, look at it from the other side

This has been a pretty tough week and I'm feeling a little bruised. When I get like this I remind myself of all the times kids have come into my classroom looking dejected from situations they face outside my classroom. Students are constantly dealing with their own traumas and personal tragedies. Some seem inane ('minhaz bought the same coat as me and now we look stupid') other are more serious ('"the macmillan nurse was late again today so I had to give mum her medication" is one I recently overhead fromt a student justifying his lateness to the receptionist. For those outside the UK, macmillan nurses care for patients with terminal cancer). How on earth does that student then go into their lesson and concentrate on geography?

In today's upset I pondered how I wanted to be treated by colleagues when I felt down. I realised that mostly I want the fact I'm not okay to be noticed but I didn't want a fuss. A sort of 'caring-business-as-usual' would be perfect. From my experience, students usually want the same thing too. A mouthed 'are you okay?' or quiet recognition of their being down can make all the difference to clear students' heads and allow them to continue with learning. Sometimes students might talk about what the problem is but very often they will get on with things in a resilient fashion. Several times students will say to me as they leave, 'thanks for that miss, I'll be okay tomorrow' - as if to let me know that the situation is transient.

Asking too many questions, interfering or telling students to 'cheer up' does not work however. All tend to be irritating, so avoid where possible.

That said, I do hope I cheer up tomorrow. It's the last day of term after all......