Teaching Opinion

Remember to Be Kind in the Days Before Winter Break

By Starr Sackstein — December 13, 2016 2 min read
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The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a bit of a slog.

Teachers and administrators are functioning at a fraction of their optimal levels because the wear and tear of the long school days are taking their tolls.

And students are getting restless.

It’s easy in these times to allow little confrontations to become big issues when we aren’t feeling like the best versions of ourselves.

Today in class I noticed a student disengaging while one of his classmates was presenting her speech. “Please stop playing on your phone and listen to her speech as she did for you.”

“I’m not bothering anyone. I’m being quiet.”

“It bothers me that you aren’t engaging in your own learning. Please give her your attention and respect her hard work.”

“I’m not learning anything in this class anyway. You don’t know how to teach.”

Before I spoke after this point, I took a deep breath and made sure not to sound cross or to raise my voice despite the fact that my eye started twitching and a little bit of my heart broke.

“I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’d really like to know more so that I can be better if that’s the case. Can you please stay back after class so we can talk for a minute?”

“I’m not staying.”


Walking away, I’m certain I wore a bit of the disappointment on my face, but did my best to look like it didn’t bother me. I want every child to be happy and learning in my class, so it’s so sad to me when exchanges like this occur because I expect so much from myself.

To be clear, I was upset with the student for disrespecting his peer, but I was more upset with myself for not reaching him.

A few weeks ago, I may have handled this situation differently and when he didn’t stay after class to talk, I felt dejected. Rather than linger in this place, I hope to greet him tomorrow, eager to chat without any angry talk. It’s time to bring him back. Engage him, possibly connect with him on a different level.

As we all struggle to stay engaged in the next week or so, we need to be especially kind to each other. It’s easier to be nice than it is to be grumpy and although that is where we may be (which is okay), a smile from a student, colleague or peer can go a long way.

So why not be the smile. Say the kind words. Recognize aloud the things you notice and see if you can be the person who makes someone’s day, every day.

What will you do today to help make someone’s day before we go out on holiday break? 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.