Holiday Message to My Teaching Colleagues about Sensitivity to Students

Dear Colleagues, it is that time of the year when we count down to the day when we can sleep in and decompress from a hectic school year. I would be utterly lying if I pretended that I am not looking forward to some down time after three months of non-stop activity. I’m counting down with you. But I’m still going to bust your bubbles a bit.

Now this is not for everyone, so if it is not for you, then breathe a sigh of relief and keep it moving. If for some reason it is for you, please do not take it personally. This is professional and founded on love. Love for our work and love for the students.

If I could ask you to do these things, then know I’m willing to do them as well.

  1. Try not to vent your frustration on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Check your privacy settings to make sure students and parents cannot see some of your comments about enthusiastically awaiting the break. Try not to let anyone see that countdown to winter break. Yes, your peers will understand, but if a friend has a child at your school or in your class, you’ve done nothing to increase their confidence in your ability to teach their child.
  2. In school, try not to be so transparent about your holiday plans or shopping or enthusiasm for the break. You’ve got some kids who will not have much of a holiday because of family or financial circumstances. Be sensitive.
  3. Though you’re probably weary and in need of a rest, try not to let it show. Students pick up on fatigue and feelings. It’s hard for a kid to know what is about them and what is not. Try to make them feel comfortable until that last day.
  4. If you notice any changes in students in terms of their disposition or demeanor, then take the time to ask them if she or he is okay. If he or she is not okay, then know the appropriate next steps in getting them to seek some help. Children and teens are not exempt from the holiday blues or depression.
  5. Lastly, be mindful of this one thing. If you’re tired, then students are just as tired of school. Some of their behavior can be explained because they are just as tired as you. They just lack the emotional skills to deal with it.

See? That wasn’t too bad, was it? I think the longer I am an educator, the more I am cognizant of the fact that we teach to serve the students and not just ourselves. That said, enjoy your break. Meet you back at work in January.

Dr. Grady

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