Sometimes it’s nice to be told. Many moons ago I was a classroom teacher. I loved classroom teaching. I loved seeing these little people grow under my care. I loved seeing their knowledge expand. I loved the closeness of the relationships I developed. I was a great teacher and this was often reflected in the notes left from students and parents as well as the general feeling in my classroom.
It was a huge decision I made when I chose not to continue classroom teaching. It was all I knew. It was what I was good at. It was what everyone expected of me. But it had also sucked all energy out of me and I was constantly ill. It is hard to give everything you are to 32 little (and not so little; those grade 8 students are getting tall!) people on a daily basis and still have something left for yourself and your family. So when we moved countries, I chose for a change in direction.
Fast forward a few years, a few up’s and down’s and many great lessons, and here we are; teaching in a different capacity. One of the differences I find from the teaching I do now to the teaching I did then, is we don’t often hear what a great job we are doing. I think this is possibly because the relationships we have are slightly different to that of a classroom teacher. We see our students once or twice a week for one to two hours as opposed to five days a week for six or more hours. We see dramatic results with our students, from massive gains in self esteem flowing through to improved behaviour in and out of school, to lifting of academic results usually of 2 or more years! The thing is, it is kind of expected of us. We are a ‘pit-stop’ in the children’s learning journey and although the parents are both relieved and grateful, it is seldom that we hear from the students how much they appreciate our efforts. Part of this is because they have had to work so jolly hard to achieve their results. And they should own this; it is THEIR work. But little do many realise how hard we work alongside them. How much of ourselves we give to ensuring they too believe in themselves like we believe in them. How hard it can be to motivate a student who has no self belief. The hours we spend behind the scenes to prepare work, to analyse results, to test and measure our delivery, to discuss what needs to be done to better help and better prepare each student and to make constant changes to make sure we are getting the best out of each of them.
We tell our students when we think they can work harder, work smarter or make more effort. We help our students understand how they learn and work with them to increase their own responsibility for their work. We often tell our students how proud we are of their efforts and achievements.
Appreciation comes back to us in the increased confidence we see in our students. It comes back to us in their smile, it comes back to us in their report cards. But to be honest, sometimes it’s nice to be told.