In many other jobs, if you’re having a bad day, there’s usually somewhere you can hide. Turn off the phones for a bit. Take a long break. Shoot, go sit in the bathroom for awhile. You really don’t have that option as a fifth-grade teacher.
I have a very small amount of time to capture my kids’ imaginations. Part of that is the old adage that they don’t care what you know until they know that you care. So here you are on your A-game for the first part of the year while you’re energized, investing in the kids, making them want to be at school, and building respect and rapport. You’re getting notes and emails from parents amazed that for the first time ever their child wants to come to school in the morning. That fragile child who has never opened up to anyone, sees you as that adult they finally trust.
And then you’re having a bad day. And that kid who trusts you, but also hasn’t put his name on a paper all year, doesn’t have his name on his paper AGAIN! Your day has been junk and your patience is limited. And out of your mouth comes that comment that expresses your annoyance with his behavior, and you immediately undo ALL the progress you’ve made with him. You realize instantly and pull him aside. You try to explain you were having a bad day. You’re sorry.
You have now become another adult he can’t trust.
Face it…you aren’t allowed to have a bad day. But, regardless of our superhero powers, we do have bad days. So, what do we do about them.
Tell them up front. Kids are amazingly forgiving if they know ahead of time that you aren’t yourself that day. Be honest and tell them, “I’m having a bad day. Please be patient with me today if I mess up.” Not only will they forgive you easier if you slip, your honesty, if you’ve developed respect and rapport, will most likely buy you a calmer class than normal. I know this flies in the face of many of the “experts.” They say your students should have no idea of your mood because you should have a game face on. Yeah, right. That advice is written by “educators” who haven’t been in a classroom for years. Be honest with your students. They know when you’re lying anyway.