By far one of the best parts of teaching is the fact that every day is a new day. Doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, when we roll up to school the next day and the bell rings, we all have a clean slate and with that comes infinite potential.
As educators, we face some of the hardest situations; they try us emotionally, physically and often make us question our career choice.
Depending on the age of the students we work with a bad day can really bring us to our knees... or maybe I’m only speaking from my own experiences.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve run the gamut of feelings about teaching, but I know education is where I belong despite the days I’ve walked away feeling like that should be my last.
What I appreciate most the ability to step back after a bad day and really put things in perspective. If a student and I had a difference of opinions and I didn’t show the best side of myself, I can come back to class tomorrow, with a smile on my face and treat the day as new.
Here are the benefits of letting go and choosing to start each day fresh:
- With all of the personalities we deal with, a number of factors can influence how we act and react to any given situation, so the same situation tomorrow may impact us differently depending on how we woke up, or went to sleep or any number of things that may have happened on the way to school. We need to keep things in perspective.
- Holding on to something that didn’t serve us well the first time will likely stunt forward movement and also potentially harm us in ways that aren’t always evident immediately. Let’s face it, holding a grudge takes an enormous effort that just wastes energy and there are far more productive ways to spend our time. We must focus forward and see the best in each situation, at least after we sleep on it if we couldn’t see it right away. Distance from a situation always makes it easier to recognize.
- We need to model the behavior of letting go so that students can see the benefits of moving on. When we show students how to act maturely, we foster better relationships and nurture ourselves. Young children are really good at moving on because they don’t have the capacity to stay in a moment for too long. Adolescents on the other hand can really blow things out of proportion. As adults, we can’t behave like the children in the room, we must take the high road as much as possible and when we can’t, we need to model apologizing. Hard lessons to learn here, but very powerful ones.
- Being positive and finding the moments we can hold on to that fill us with good feelings helps us live longer and also promotes the longevity of our careers. If we hold on to every altercation or challenging moment, we’d burn out almost immediately. I like to keep a few letters from old students or notes close by so that when I feel like I can’t go on, there is a reminder as to why I do what I do. Making an impact on even one child’s life is enough to reset the clock sometimes.
- New days promote new perspective and perhaps what wasn’t clear yesterday, will be today. There are endless possibilities at the beginning of each new day, so choose to look at things from a different angle. This can promote creativity and help us move forward in more innovative ways.
- Try to make positive presuppositions and treat everyone like their intentions are good. When we approach situations from the positive it is easier to disarm instead of engage in a possible altercation. This creates a healthier learning environment for everyone and ultimately a safer one too. When we approach from the negative, we’re asking for a fight.
Being an educational professional is stressful and emotionally draining. We must try to approach each day like a blank canvas ready to become the next masterpiece because in reality, that day may just be today; we just don’t know until it happens. This too is part of the excitement of teaching, so much hope.
What do you do to help let go of potentially explosive situations at work? Please share
The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.