Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.


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A Cranky Teacher: Seeing Myself Through My Students’ Eyes

Substitute teaching is harder than it looks.

“Miss Campbell, are you married?” The junior higher asked. “No,” I said as they continued. “Are you engaged?” “No,” I responded.

Then a junior high boy made a comment that I didn’t fully hear: “Maybe that’s why…” I looked sternly in his direction and didn’t hear the rest. I had had enough battles for that day of substitute teaching.

My imagination added the rest: “Maybe that’s why she’s cranky and unreasonable sometimes.”

Or “Maybe that’s why she’s quiet and doesn’t laugh much.”

Taking the time to consider myself from my students’ perspective is helpful, sobering, and a little funny (I shouldn’t take myself so seriously!)

Cranky teacher

Did I really need to let one student get under my skin so that she started shouting when I asked her to leave the room?
How could have I made it more fun to transition instead of just repeating the same instructions several times?

The life of a substitute teacher flows with newness and lots of challenging students. Students go on their worst behavior when a substitute comes; why is that?
It’s human nature, so I guess they just have to test the limits.
I’ve done okay, but I’m not an amazing sub. However, I’ve learned a lot from subbing:

I’m a grouch sometimes. Period. And a little chocolate helps.

Students can’t read my mind, so I need to give them clear directions and then if they choose not to follow then they get a consequence.

I forget to smile and am nit-picky.

My processing speed in new situations is slow at times when I’m stressed out, and I need space to figure out what to do next.

I need to know my high expectations for my students, have fun getting there, and not let them get away with being sloppy.

My teaching voice needs work (maybe voice lessons?).

Assume I’m right and don’t argue with students!

Be confident; I am the teacher, even if I’m grouchy sometimes, and students must have an okay attitude or if there’s a bad attitude, work through it with me.

Apologies help with everyone.
Be confident enough to admit I was wrong and humbly apologize when needed.

Be observant. Students are sneaky!

Students want the sub to be strong and not let other students push him or her around.

Don’t nit-pick; save the correction for important times, but you can be establishing your standards in a fun way. I’ve been unsure of correction, so I’m nice until I need to confront someone, then I come down hard to show who is boss, then students take offense because I didn’t have a connection with them and emotional capital to use. Students are not machines!

I saw a friend over-do correction recently and then it clicked in my head why I had been offending some students. There is a relational balance, and I had been over-doing it. They had just been talking when they should have been studying, but I came on full-force; adjust to the situation.
I’m learning to build rapport and trust with my students.

Teaching is worth the hassle! Do it.

Be yourself and teach well.

To all the substitute teachers out there: My hat is off to you. Continue teaching and serving those students! You have a hard, but rewarding job.

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Learning to Have a “No”

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When you say “No!” to people, groups, and institutions you separate yourself from them. It hurts. It divides, but it also frees you to define yourself, to open doors, and to say “yes” to specific opportunities and relationships that you desire to cultivate.
Saying “no” makes your “yes” more powerful and fulfilling. It shows who you are as an individual. No’s define you. No, that is not me. No, I don’t believe in that. No, I think this way, but I still respect you.

Some people have a hard time saying “no” to things and people that may be good, but they are not what they want in their lives.
If you say “yes” out of fear that people will reject you if you don’t agree, then that weakens your “yes.”

People know it if we are not fully committed even if we are saying “yes.” Our actions and attitudes give us away through showing resentment, being slow or late, or clear disrespect; it can be passive aggressive.

Yes, there are times when we need to lay down what we want, and should go along with things we would like different for the good of the whole group. That is part of being in community, which is essential, but to have a voice in the community you need a “no!”

For example, I enjoyed a fun group of friends after college, and we had great fun and prayer meetings. After a couple years, things started getting strange, I didn’t feel safe anymore, so I stood up to the group, challenged them, and decided to leave. I was just starting to learn how to have a “no,” so I fumbled and didn’t do it very well. I hurt people through my “no,” but I started learning how to protect myself, and I started learning how to work through things.

It takes inner fortitude to stand up to people and be honest and say what you really mean. Where does this inner fortitude come from? It comes through practice, and through learning who you are, so that you know your values and can stand up for yourself since you are the one who knows where you begin and end.

If all you have said in the past is “yes,” then when you start saying no, you are letting people know you in a new level. You are defining and knowing yourself more deeply. You may create some waves, but the real relationships will survive. You need to have a “no” to be able to be healthy and have real relationships.

Having a “no” will help you choose a life for yourself, and you will not just float wherever. Expressing your “no” will help you be a better friend, family member, and person.

Resource to help you develop your “No”:

Boundaries
by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend