The Best Thing You Can Do for That “Difficult” Class

Teacher seating in front of blackboard_difficult class

As a teacher, I constantly find myself fighting the battle between “this job is my passion” and “oh my god, I hate all people.” I find myself overwhelmed with all of the million things we are asked to do on a daily basis. I, like most teachers, come home wanting to unwind, but instead, find myself consumed with thoughts of all of the work I have to do. Even with all of this looming over my head, every few months, I make sure to find time to do one of the most important tasks as a teacher: writing a positive note to each one of my students.

Given everything else teachers have going on, you may think this is a waste of time, but hear me out. Every time I sit down to do this, I know each of my kids will have a moment in which they feel they are important to me. I know most teachers have had it drilled into their heads how important it is to build relationships with students. You have been told during countless hours of training, “if the kids know you care, they will behave.”

Well, I am well aware that is often a load of hoo-ha. The students have their nice moment after reading my card, but to be honest, most of them forget about it within a day. And that’s fine. Because what I have discovered from sitting down to write these notes is that aside from giving students their moment of positivity for the day, it helps on an even deeper level. It forces me as a teacher to sit down and really reflect on something I love about each one of my kids. 

Even more important to a child than getting a nice note from their teacher is being able to sense that their teacher genuinely cares about them. Let’s face it, there are some kids who you just don’t like and 90% of the time, they can tell. Negativity begets negativity. When students can tell you don’t like them, they respond negatively, which in turn makes you dislike them even more. When you force yourself to find something in each one of your kids that you LOVE, your whole attitude towards them will change. Sure, they may come to school unprepared, talk during your whole lesson, and never have their work done, but darn it if they aren’t the first one to volunteer every time you need help cleaning something.

Yes, you have that one student who never writes their name on their paper and their desk is a mess, but they make sure to say “Good Morning!” every day. There is something good in every student and as teachers, it is our job to find that goodness and focus on it with all we have. Each time I sit down to write those notes, I recenter my focus on that child onto the positive qualities they bring to my room every day. I am always amazed at how quickly they respond to what might even seem like an imperceptible change in my attitude. 

Any time you find yourself frustrated with your class, the best thing you can do for yourself is sit down to write these notes. When you think you can’t handle another day with them, write these notes. It is during those times when you feel the most frustrated that you most need a reminder why you love doing what you do. Why you love your students. So put off grading those papers for one more day and make this a priority. From one hot mess teacher to another: you won’t be sorry! 

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