A thought on teaching….

As a teacher if you let every prior “bad” or negative past experience with a student permeate every future experience with that same student you do the student and yourself an injustice. Teenagers may repeat mistakes, sometimes many times but they also change, many times. When I hear a teacher say “I hate that student” or “I can’t stand this kid” I know that no matter how that student may present themselves in class in the future that teacher will always judge them lacking, always expect them to mess up. There is no chance for a fresh start or a clean slate. I can honestly say that no matter how badly behaved, offensively speaking and disrespectful a student has been (even if this behaviour predominates) there will always be moments after that when our interactions are productive, friendly and utterly respectful. It’s almost like there’s a new person in front of you. I can choose to hang onto that loathsome moment from class a week ago when he or she swore at me in the most derogatory of ways, threw a chair or put a fist through a door or I can let it go, knowing that there were consequences meted out and start afresh as though they were a brand new student.

I find the latter is the best approach, both for the student and for my own sense of job satisfaction. There will always be times when I intensely dislike the way a student is behaving and in that moment I don’t hesitate to acknowledge that my feelings for that student are far from charitable. The nice thing is knowing that, like all things, these feelings change and so will the student.