"Passing in the hall the other day, I asked my colleague Jane, "Hey, how are you?"
"Great! How are you?" she replied - all pep and smiles!
"Stressed, overwhelmed, and moving way too fast!" I shared. In an instant her face opened up and her body visibly relaxed...
Then Jane said, "Oh my gosh, me too! - I just say 'great' because it's easier."
Ever get honest like this at school? And I'm not talking about complaining or getting negative, just REAL. It's pretty cool how fast rapport grows and how we start feeling more human when we open up. Like it's OK to be ourselves finally...to be imperfect. Once we get real, then we're free to just be us, and to connect with those around us. That's what kids need, us. Well-designed curriculum and a good learning target are great, but it's US that kids crave. And it's being us that's essential if we're going to sustain this crazy life of teaching. Nothing fancy, just bein' ourselves.
So, I challenge you to a little experiment. The next time someone asks you how you are, tell the truth...and just see where it leads.
The Herd Mentality of Teaching
The herd mentality is strong in schools. Kids are exploring the rules and boundaries of relationships, posturing and posing, and brutal to others that are different. There’s a reason states are now passing anti-bullying laws. Being different is tough. And even for teachers – in this world of standards, testing, and strict teacher evaluations, it’s difficult to just be yourself. But in truth, that’s what kids need us to do. From the way we structure our classes and deliver curriculum, to the way we interact between classes, in the cafeteria, or playground, we are each unique people and kids need that. Some kids connect with me, and other kids connect with our PE teacher or social studies teacher – different kids, different teachers. Often I feel like I should be more like the other teachers, more outgoing, funnier, more hip to the fashions, but none of that is really me. I’m more introspective, sensitive, compassionate to kids who struggle or stick out…kids need me to be me, and they need you to be you.