We need to share our impediments as teachers and fully disclose our struggles. We need to refrain from positioning ourselves as experts, most especially if we have secret challenges that keep us up at night. We need to speak of our shortcomings, mistakes, and battles as much as we speak of our triumphs. We also need to be cognizant of how our teaching circumstances may or may not afford us certain privileges, and it’s quite possibly those privileges or lack thereof that contribute to the variables that make our teaching successful or unsuccessful. I say this to say we need to be honest about everything in our classrooms. To use an analogy that all HPE teachers can understand – a homerun in one stadium can be an easy pop-fly out in another not because it wasn’t well hit, but because the wall is just that much farther in another context.

Teaching isn’t always pretty. It’s not always glamorous and shiny. It’s not always neat. Who or what determines neatness anyways? Teaching is messy. However, messy is not synonymous with ineffective. As a society, we can’t cling to quotes that urge us to see beauty in chaos while simultaneously scoffing at the idea that learning spaces have to present a certain aesthetic level of neatness in order to be the sanctuaries we believe they can be. We can’t ponder whether or not falling trees make sounds in forests when no one is around if we then adopt an arbitrary definition of quality teaching when great teaching can’t always been “seen.” More importantly, as educators, we cannot project the perception of flawlessness in our classrooms. When something’s essence is only so because it is being compared to something else or an ideal, then “value” is dependent on a hierarchy of “goodness,” and teaching is too multifaceted to reduce to such straightforwardness.

In order to teach and to teach well, you have to care. You have to be warm. You have to care enough to have systems, routines, and procedures for consistency, and you have to care enough to have warmth in your disposition. You have to care enough to have grace when those organizational systems fall short, and you have to care enough to adapt when they need to be adjusted or amended altogether. There are no SEL strategies that will help if YOU are not warm. There are also no classroom management techniques that will work if you are not relentlessly consistent with their implementation. We can’t forget that techniques don’t work by themselves the same way food doesn’t cook itself. There is art in the teaching, and the teaching is art.

Despite how impactful you aim to be as a teacher, you will inevitably feel discouraged, disheartened, and doubtful that you are doing your job effectively. The more proactive and research driven you are, the more you can end up feeling like everyone else around you is doing a better job than you. It’s easy to see the flashy marketing side of teaching portrayed on social media as something you need to adopt as soon as possible, but it’s important to remember that kids are kids and students are students no matter where you are. That means that we all share the same struggles when it comes to striving to serve all of the students we come across who have varying learning styles, accommodations, and needs. We have to be honest with our challenges, and we have to be willing to know and accept that there isn’t one “thing” that works for everyone. However, if we merely continue to be warm and to marry that warmth with routines and procedures that work for us and our specific student population because those aren’t the bare minimum. Both of those are the “it factor” required to show up as authentically and as present as possible regardless of what that “it” looks like on a day to day basis.

If you like Daniel Matos’ writing, he is also the author of SWERVE, a book about a boy who attempts to understand his world around him, his emotions, his family and friends, and most importantly, his future through his love of professional wrestling.

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Daniel Matos, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com

Pair this post with the following:

Good Boy by Daniel Matos

A Poem About Stories by Amy Dawson

Do Not Confuse or Conflate by Carlos Andrés Gómez

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  1. Pingback: Meeting Them (Almost) Where They’re At – #slowchathealth

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