I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Look for the Good

The following is a post I shared on a "Middle School ELA Teachers" Facebook group:

Hello, all. 
I don't regularly follow any group on FB, but many days a thread from this group pops up in my feed. It's usually a frustrated teacher. We all have frustrating drive-me-to-drink, can't-sleep-due-to-that-one-student days.
Here is [sic] my two cents on how I get through them. 1) Look for the good. Who IS doing what you asked and trying hard? They're there. 2) Acknowledge the good. Tell these students 1:1 how you appreciate them in the class. You might even want to send a good note home to their parents. That always helps me counteract noticing the bad habits of a student. 3) Notice exactly what the other students are doing that frustrates you. 4) Wait until you are calm (the next morning, perhaps), and in your free period, pull each child separately to tell them what, exactly, you are noticing. 5) Ask that particular child what he or she can do to improve. 6) Follow through.

That being said, we'll still have students who are frustrating. It's February. It's middle school. It will not be pleasant every day. These children's brains aren't fully developed, and won't be for another TEN years or so. We must still love them, because we never know if they're being loved at home. Be the rock they can all count on, even if you can't yet count on all of them just yet. Just my two cents.
Side note (one more cent): What you call/label them - even in your head - they'll become for you.
✌️ Peace out.

These frustrated teachers had been sharing that students were making them cry. One shared that her students were "monsters." I couldn't notice it and watch it continue. Imagine their mental health! Imagine the kids that needed them at their best! I wrote the book on shifting my own words; it was time to speak up.
After posting this, I left Facebook for a bit, thinking I wouldn't look at the comments. I was worried, because I'd stuck my head out once again, and these teachers did not seem like a happy group. I checked later this week and was very pleasantly surprised. I am looking through a new lens this week, as well. I've been listening to The Courage to Be Happy by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, and it's grounding me. It's showing me what I know in my heart to be true. This past week was one of my favorites so far this year.

I'd like to leave you with a funny story from Friday afternoon...

I love to look for (and save!) the good. 
The laughter my students provide (intentional or not) take me far...

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