“Listen, you little wiseacre, I’m smart, you’re dumb. I’m big, you’re little. I’m right, you’re wrong. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Most teachers that I know would agree that Harry Wormwood’s words in Matilda are terrible. Even so, he’s an exaggeration, and I’ve seen this attitude played out in a more reasonable sounding fashion over and over again throughout my teaching career.
I’ll even say that at times, it’s understandable. As a teacher, you’re tasked with completing several goals at once and leading a classroom full of people who may not care to be there. None of these people have a fully developed frontal lobe, so their decision making skills are already sketchy at best, and that’s before you consider all of the baggage they bring to your classroom. And all of this means that it can be frustrating as hell to be a teacher. What if they all miss the objectives that I’ve taught? Why don’t I have enough time? Why are you saying mean things to Tyler? I’ve written the page number on the board, and had your classmates repeat it three times out loud, how could you possibly not know which page we’re on?
But here’s the thing. You’re with these people more than you’re with your other coworkers. You’re not their boss, though — you don’t have hiring and firing powers. You’re their manager. You’re their manager because you’re the only one with the experience to know what they’re supposed to know. But what does a manager who can’t fire you do? They work with you, they build a culture with you. The best managers care about having fun at work, they care about their coworkers’ birthdays and recognizing great work with their team. They rally to help people who need it, and they greet their team with a smile.
You’re in it with these kids, so you might as well enjoy yourself. If you can’t have fun, and you’re not interested in them enjoying their time with you, maybe you shouldn’t be a manager of a team of younger people. Sure, education should be full of hard work, preparation, and rigor. But passion and joy fuel rigor. Sit still, be quiet, do your work, I’m not telling you another time, Austin! These don’t fuel rigor. They fuel resentment. Theirs and yours. What a miserable time you’re going to have until you retire or worse, get your Ed Leadership Masters and take your terrible attitude into admin.
Your kids are your coworkers, and you’ve got some team goals to reach. Remember that their humanity, and yours, needs to be fed and nurtured if you’re going to reach the goals effectively each year.
I’m sure this little rant could be better organized, but I’ve got anywhere between zero and four readers on most days, so this is just exercise. Even so, it’s still important exercise to me. Thank you if you read this all the way through. If you liked it, please share it. If not, please find something you do like from me or someone else and share that!