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I Stopped Fighting 5 Common Teacher Battles. Here’s What Happened.


5 Teacher Battles I Stopped Fighting for a More Peaceful Classroom

As a newly minted teacher all those years ago, I had ideas of how things would go in MY classroom. A couple of decades on, and let’s just say I’ve achieved my ideal classroom… by letting go of some of those beliefs. It’s not that I’ve lowered the bar so much as I’ve changed its position, and no, I don’t lose sleep over it. Here are five teacher battles I’m happy to say I’ve given up on in my classroom.

5. Fighting over dress codes

Unless there are swear words, drugs, or alcohol on the clothing, I don’t care what my students wear. I refuse to subscribe to toxic gendered rules about spaghetti straps or skirt length. Nor do I care about sleeveless shirts or ripped jeans. I will not shame students over what they’re wearing because if they chose to wear it, either they are comfortable wearing it or it’s all they have. No one died and made me the boss of someone else’s body. Period.

Also, I don’t nag older students to wear coats in cold weather. They’re old enough to know if they’re cold. I make sure that they do OWN a coat, then I tease them about not wearing it, as I march by in my parka and woolly hat. But make them sweat buckets while racing around on the soccer field, just ‘cause my old bones are cold? Nah.

4. Forcing students to read books I think are good

Gone are the days of the whole-class novel study. I’ve had students who loved Tuck Everlasting… and I’ve had students who hated it. That’s okay. Just because Winnie’s story transports ME to her front yard on that hot August day doesn’t mean it transports everybody. Graphic novels, humor, non-fiction, picture books, I’m all in. I’ll do my best (sometimes with a library budget, and sometimes my own pocketbook… I know, I know) to find something that hooks my kids, so they realize reading can be FUN. And if they still struggle with books? It’s 2021 – audiobooks and e-texts to the rescue! Yes, sometimes books must be standardized and leveled. But as much as possible, my students read books that THEY choose.

3. Making them work quietly

Some students listen to learn, some students talk to learn, and some students do to learn. For many, it’s a combination of all three. So a classroom with learning happening is going to be a noisier classroom. Exceptions? During a test and whole-class discussions when someone else is talking. Oh, and inside and on-topic voices are required. That’s all.

2. Pressuring students to meet standardized goals

Children progress at their own developmental pace. Teacher battles that don’t take that into account are a waste of time. Sure, the rich learning tasks, focused instruction, and one-on-one time educators provide supports the learning process. But we all know that standardized goals don’t fit all kiddos.

We do our very best, and we do see improvement – it’s one of the most satisfying parts of our job! The last thing I want is to stress them out trying to make them reach a target that is developmentally inappropriate. So I meet them where they are, bring them along further, and don’t stay up at night worrying about whether they’ll progress enough to meet artificial testing objectives.

1. Keeping track of the pencils I lend to students

It’s impossible. Pencil elves come and eat them at night. Or the kids eat them. Or something. Neon tape, my name in big letters, fancy eraser tops, none of it works. Now when a kid needs a pencil, I just hand it over. No questions asked.

I’ve stopped stressing about these common teacher battles. However, I have to admit to lying awake at 3 am wondering if the pencils go where the socks go… is there a whole other dimension featuring aliens with eight extra-warm feet and a writing implement in each of their six hands? Now that’s what keeps me up at night!

Come tell us what teacher battles you’ve abandoned in the #teacherlife community!

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5 Teacher Battles I Stopped Fighting for a More Peaceful Classroom

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Anne Lefebvre

Legend

I grew up in the city but now call small-town Ontario, Canada home, along with my husband and two teenage boys. I’m a passionate elementary school educator, but when I’m not at school you can find me playing a sport, reading, or drinking a cup of tea.

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