Updated: Sep 10, 2022
And maybe they were right. Back-to-school time is quite the event.
And I have no planning period currently, so you know I'm twitchy-eyed and frustrated at work.
Alongside the daily grind of the classroom, we see perfectly polished pictures peppering your Instagram feed.
Back-to-school activities scattered on TikTok are sure to help us kick off the year with ease.
Don't even get me started on the ca-ute outfits that seem to hug every curve perfectly of the teacher modeling their perfect teacher get-up.
Rainbow top, trendy mom jeans, custom dangle earrings, those hip platform Converse.
You know, it looks like they're obsessed with their job and it comes with such ease.
Like they enjoy every moment in the classroom and have their shit 100% together.
Meanwhile, some of us (aka me) are over here dragging into work, pulling out our best acting skills for students, and barely getting by.
I can say while I haven't been feeling the best about this year thus far ( I desperately miss my seniors from last year and think I bit off too much from returning to the classroom again), I do like my students.
That's the important part, right? Actually liking the kids-- not just showing up on social media as Kinda Sorta Teacher who has it fake has her shit together?
So if this year has been a struggle for you thus far, I am right there with you, teacher homie.
Aside from delivering engaging content to my students that won't bore them to death, my primary this year (as always) will be fostering meaningful and genuine relationships with my students.
It's my favorite part about teaching and truly, the primary reason I've lasted in the profession this long. Nonetheless, two things can be true at once, it's also the most exhausting part of the profession.
We must monitor teenagers' feelings delicately, reminding them not to take things personally. Sometimes their mood has nothing to do with us. Like when a student called me an ass hole this week.
Well, in his defense, I am cranky fourth period. And to his double defense, he said, "Mrs. Tiger is being an ass hole to me," which is certainly different from calling me an ass hole. Or maybe it isn't.
The student was uncomfortable after they'd said it. Their classmates freaked out on them in my defense. They apologized on numerous occasions. They even proceeded to write two apology haikus.
I told them I would be reaching out to their parents before the end of the day, and joked that I did not accept their apology (even though I did-- a teenager saying they regret their words is a big ass deal).
I didn't write a referral.
I didn't have them removed from the class.
I didn't even feel offended if I'm being honest.
I did contact their parents nonetheless.
I contacted them and delivered only positive remarks about their child.
That I appreciated how the students would read aloud to the class whenever I asked.
That the student was in the process of writing a gorgeous essay for me.
I just said the truly nice things about their kid.
Sometimes offering grace is a better relationship builder than a scolding could ever be.
Am I saying to let your students call you an ass hole and do nothing about it but send a kind email to their parents?
No, not necessarily.
But what I am saying is to utilize the power of kindness and make parent contact for the remarkable and wondrous things our students do-- not just the ass-holey things.
All semester long, I will continue to listen to my students, offer them grace, and incorporate engaging resources to give them time to catch their breath during the school year.
Because even as an adult, don't we need that sometimes too?
I know I do.
If you're making your way into the school year and need some September Check-In materials for your students, I gotcha boo!
I like to use my interactive materials for:
Early Finishers I always struggle with assigning students who work quicker more work. Imagine if you finished a task before your colleagues and your principal slapped more work on your plate-- hell no. Interactive activities are perfect to use for those super early finishers while giving you insight into who they are.
Morning Meetings Many schools are moving towards beginning their day with morning meetings-- my school included. As a high school teacher, I've found that while the idea sounds amazing in theory, my teens aren't interested in many of the activities that elementary-aged students get a kick out of. All of my interactive activities can be used as a daily morning meeting activity for high school and middle school students. You can assign one slide per day to students for the morning meeting, project it on your board, and then let students share it with the whole group or with new partners daily.
Mental Health Days If you teach teenagers, you know the drama to be real. Some days as we begin to move into instruction, as a teacher, you can just tell the vibe is off. Many students are disengaged, heads down, not quite being themselves. This is a great way to press pause and give students a chance to reflect and get a pick-me-up. It's not free time-- but it feels like it. All the while, the students will be recharging and sharing what may have gotten them into their funk in the first place. Be sure to set some chill music on YouTube, set your timer for 15-20 minutes, then get back to the books! High school and middle school students need mental health check-ins too!
Sub Work Call me crazy-- I am so over assigning sub work and leaving tedious sub plans. We all know there is not only a teaching shortage but a sub-crisis also. No matter how thorough my sub plans are, how amazing the video I prerecorded for students to watch, and how in-depth I went with students as to my expectations... nothing gets done on sub days (no fault to the sub). Once I switched to leaving my interactive activities and counting them as a classwork grade, magically my sub-work turn-in rate skyrocketed!
Free Days + Get Your Life Together Day Now a full fletched free day is never an option-- but as an English teacher, there are days that I allow my students to complete their 30 minutes of silent reading, check their PowerSchool grades, work on missing assignments, get 1:1 help from me, and work on an engaging interactive activity that is themed to an upcoming holiday. If they seem a bit moody lately, then I may use a vibe check to gather some info. It is okay to slow down and let the students know that you are human and they are too. They'll appreciate it in the long run.
Interactive resources, conversation, getting to really know what makes my students tick, and offering grace have been among the most critical requirements in building genuine relationships with my teenage students. If you need help building relationships with your high school and middle school students, try any of these activities.
Be sure to review their answers, talk to them about the insight you've gained, and check in on them. When they know you care, all the difference is made.
Hang in there, y'all. We have the most rewarding and meaningful profession in the world.
And even though we are tired (literally, sleepy and tired of the bull shit) we are damn good at our jobs and we love it.
Love, Hugs, and Lots of Kisses. Cheers,
Ty Tiger | Kinda Sorta Teacher