Teaching Expectations

When I talk about teaching expectations I am aware that this title can be read two different ways. As a teacher there are certain expectations for students and as a teacher there are certain expectations for you.

At the time of this writing, we are on summer break. Teachers and students alike are experiencing a period of rest. This is the perfect time for a teacher to do some thinking and planning. It’s time to revisit questions like, “Why do I teach?” and “How can I do a better job as a teacher?”.

Those days are over. Pause for a moment and repeat that to yourself, “Those days are OVER!”. It will be painful to push students back up to where they belong, but the great teacher will plan and work to get student results that are acceptable. We also need to realize that we have been effected as well. If the kids didn’t need to do top notch work, we didn’t need to either. Let’s get back to work!

Why teach?

So, the joke answer to the question of, “Why do I teach?” is…. “The two reasons that I teach?… June and July!” That’s a joke but it may also be true for many teachers. If you have been a teacher for any length of time then you are well aware of the “countdown” people. Teachers who know the exact number of days till the end of the year, or till winter break. Some know how many more years till retirement.

While I understand the desire to have a vacation, I also believe that these “countdown” teachers may need to reconsider their vocation. If we are preoccupied with getting away from our work, the kids will notice. We can’t get students excited about our content if we’re not excited. The job has to be more than just good vacation time.

The importance of our work

Teachers are at the helm of the ship. We steer the future. There is an old story of men laying bricks. Each is asked what they are doing. One says he’s laying bricks to support his family and another says he’s building a wall. The final bricklayer says he’s building a great cathedral. They’re all doing the same job, but they see what they are doing differently. Are we just working a job to support our family or are we building a societal cathedral for the world?

Each of us is building something into our students. We work together to build up the kids. Every day is important. If we’re doing a countdown, let’s see the days differently. Let’s say, “We only have ___ many more days to work with these students!”. We need to show urgency in our work. Let’s remind ourselves often about the power and importance of our work.

The state of work in the workplace

The consensus of the people I talk to agree that the quality of work in the world has declined. If we are to see improvement in our workforce, we will need quality work from teachers. Teachers need to hold students responsible for excellent work.

We have gone through a tough period of time. We sent kids home from school and put them on computer screens for class. Once they were out of the classroom, we lost an element of control over the students and it became extremely difficult to motivate students. As we labored through these, “Zoom” classes, many of us were told to basically pass the students even if their work was below standard.

Use the summer well

Take some time off this summer and recharge. But, also sit down and think through the last year. Whether you are a new teacher, or a seasoned veteran, sit down and think through how you want next year to look. Envision everything. How do you want the kids to enter the classroom? How do you want them to leave? What exact materials do you want them to posses during class time? How will you begin the year? What content is first? I have some ideas for you in this post.

Do NOT ignore what is coming! You are a teacher and there will be young people looking at you on day one. Spending an entire summer acting like that is never going to happen and then cramming for a few days before school starts is a terrible idea!

Not for everyone

Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. If you are looking for good vacation time, teaching will chew you up and spit you out. I’ve seen it happen! We have a great responsibility to students, parents and society in general. Let’s get ready for the best school year anyone has ever experienced!

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