Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Here's a news flash: teachers are people. For some people, this is hard to believe. Teachers are mere humans like the rest of the people in this world, but they are sometimes expected to act in super-human ways. And in my opinion, sometimes that is exactly what teachers need to do -- set aside their humanity; otherwise, teachers might end up behaving unprofessionally. So here comes a rant.

Because I am human, there are times when I show up to work and I am having a really bad day. Maybe I had a fight with my husband or daughter, or maybe I'm facing a family crisis (like last fall when my father nearly lost his life due to a cardiac arrest or last winter when I had to deal with my grandfather's suicide), or maybe I dropped the gallon of milk minutes before I left the house and had to clean it up. But in the name of professionalism, I push all that humanity aside and do my job. This doesn't mean I can't tell my students or coworkers that I'm having a bad day or that I'm dealing with some really tough things in my life at home. What it means is that I don't get to take out my anger and pain and frustration on my students and coworkers. I don't get to be snippy and crabby with them. I don't get to be rude to them. Instead, I behave professionally and interact with the people at work respectfully and civilly and pleasantly, if I can muster that. Doing otherwise is unprofessional.

Because I am human, I do not like every student in my class equally. Some students I like more than others; some I actually don't like at all. But the funny thing is that they don't know that. My students don't necessarily know who I really like, and they sure don't know which ones I don't like. Showing favoritism or partiality or dislike or hostility would be unprofessional. And this can be hard because kids are perceptive little creatures. They can sniff out fake people really quickly. As a teacher, I have to set aside my humanity and behave in a super-human way in order to be professional.

Because I am human, I do not like every person I work with. Some people I consider to be really good friends; some are work acquaintances; and some are people I am stuck working with despite the fact that I don't like them or trust them or even respect them. But just like my students, those people don't know who they are. The people I have issues with are still treated with kindness and friendliness and respect. I don't get to ignore them or be short with them or blow off their email messages when they ask me for help because doing all those things would be unprofessional.

Because I work with humans, I have to deal with people who have bad days and people who don't like me. They are short with me, ignore my emails, and behave in an unprofessional way. But I don't get to respond in kind. Instead, I behave professionally and meet rudeness with kindness.

Really, being a professional requires remembering one simple thing: treat other people the way you would want to be treated. 

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