As teachers we do not leave our emotions, our feelings, our expectations at the door when we walk into a classroom and neither do the pupils.
The Emotions of Beginnings.
Like the beginning of this page, the beginning of a school term or just the beginning of a school day, beginnings always bring with them a range of contrasting emotions.
What is a new pencil case at the beginning of term or the best writing a pupil can do at the beginning of a new exercise book if not a hope that this time things will be different.
There is the hope that something new will bring with it new opportunities, new experiences and somewhere within all of that hope is the hope that somehow we will be able to ‘start again’, that all of our old worries and insecurities will disappear. What is a new pencil case at the beginning of term or the best writing a pupil can do at the beginning of a new exercise book if not a hope that this time things will be different.
Conversely there is the worry that we will not match up to the opportunities presented, that somehow the faculties that have aided our survival till now will somehow dessert us this time. Worse still, there can be the desperate feeling at the beginning of a new school day or week or term, that no matter what we do, nothing will ever change or be good enough.
Teachers are not computers…
Our hearts and our minds connect in the classroom sometimes to great effect and sometimes to devastating effect.
Teachers are not computers and students are not merely passive memory cards or folders to be filled with files. We are all much more complex and interesting than that. We are fundamentally emotional beings.
We are driven to find joy and love and understanding, to create and be part of loving relationships and yet, when we teach, when we plan our teaching, when we think about our own behaviour or the behaviour of the pupils in front of us, we tend to sideline this part of ourselves or others.
Any teacher knows that the teaching experience can leave them with feelings of great triumph, where every sinew is engaged in a reciprocal relationship where teacher and pupils work with a singularity of purpose. Conversely, we know that the opposite can be true, that a classroom can feel like an emotional battlefield where we are shredded by the experience of trying to ‘hold it together’ while pupils and our inner demons destroy the learning process.
These are not purely intellectual experiences. These are fundamentally emotional experiences that can be immensely creative or dreadfully destructive.
Humans are amazingly resilient creatures and teachers are among the most amazing of all because no matter what happened yesterday, they always believe that today will be better. If they stick at it long enough, they are, in my experience proved right. But even though it is not without its personal and professional rewards, it can be an arduous journey – especially at first. It was ever thus. But, some simple lessons from psychology can help you short cut through some of that experience and help you understand and navigate some of the emotional investment you and your pupils put into beginnings and so help you get off to a better start.
If this resonates with you, try the exercises….