Monday, 27 August 2012
Thinking about this reminded me that for anyone involved in education as a student or a teacher, this time of year is all about transitions. My transition this year should be painless, and my husband's too, as he is going back to the same school; my children should both have a fairly easy transition as well, they are both going back to the same school they've been at since grade 1, they're going back to the same school as each other, and they know they will have friends in their class. Neither of them are worried about which teacher they'll get this year either, which has not been the case for every year!
However, transition is tough, for some more than others. As educators we need to remind ourselves that many kids are at home feeling very nervous and uneasy at this time of year. Some kids even feel scared, terrified, sick to their stomachs. As teachers we really need to make an extra effort at this time of year to make students feel comfortable, safe, and cared for during this time of transition. That extra smile, reassuring words, or pat on the shoulder can make a huge difference for a child in making them feel more calm and safe.
As a TOC, when I get called in to teach the younger grades especially I know that I'm walking into a situation in which some kids will feel nervous or afraid. I am not their regular teacher and this can throw their whole day off. I make an extra effort to make them feel comfortable at least until I've gotten to know them a little. As I've mentioned before, one huge perk to TOCing in a small district is that you get to know so many of the students, so you are not walking in as a stranger very often. This is a perk for the students as well, they often already know me a little, which usually makes things calmer and happier, and wastes less time.
A good reminder for me to be patient with students is that my own daughter is somewhat afraid of having a TOC because she has had a few bad experiences with different TOCs that have gotten very frustrated with the class at times and yelled or punished, and even gotten upset with her and told her she wasn't listening because she didn't understand instructions. This type of situation is upsetting in itself, but can be even scarier for young children when it comes from a stranger as opposed to someone students trust and have a relationship with (ie their regular teacher).
Many of us as teachers will feel that nervous stomach as we head into our first day back. I think it's important to remember that many of our students will have a nervous stomach as well, and some will have been dreading this day, and that it is our job to make them feel as calm and happy as possible:)