I noticed something interesting today.
My energy and attitude are staying at pretty high levels during my classes, but I'm finding more and more that as soon as class ends, that changes drastically.
I'm finding that the conscious effort of maintaining the high energy and positive attitude is emotionally draining.
With that said, I feel the need to clarify 2 things:
First, the energy and attitude aren't fake. I'm not putting on a show for the students, nor am I pretending to be happy when I'm not. The effort comes from continuously looking for how to make the best of whatever situation may arise. Rather than expressing disappointment when only 1 student has completed the assignment, I am using it as an opportunity to talk about decision making.
"I know that you all have things going on. I'm not going to harp on you about your homework because you need to be making choices based on your goals and needs. If you want to understand this material, you're going to have to practice it."
I am trying very hard to honor who they are as people and not just as students. In middle school, it seems more important to emphasize the school as, in theory, their parents are taking care of much of the rest. As junior and seniors, many of them have jobs and activities, or are responsible for younger siblings.
In addition to this, we talk about getting students ready for the real world, but if we don't allow them to make decisions about what to prioritize are we actually doing that?
Second, the energy and effort spent to maintain this level of involvement is, in my opinion, 100% worth while. I am doing what I can to provide my students with an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable asking questions and taking risks. Students greet me in the hallway with a smile, a handshake, a high five or a fist-bump.
Teaching is about building relationships, otherwise you might as well be an audio book or video playing in front of the class.
At the end of each class, I am exhausted and am tempted to take a nap before the next group comes in, but I don't plan to change what I'm doing any time soon.