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Carrying our baggage

As an educator, think of the struggle you’ve had with a kid who just seems to keep pushing your buttons.

Can you also recall a time you had a bad day, or when something happened to you before you stepped into the classroom, and you were on edge? Maybe lost your cool with the students in front of you. In hindsight, do you really think the reason you lost your cool was something they did, or was the baggage you brought into the classroom that day perhaps from other challenges you were experiencing.

Now, connect the dots between these two memories.

Is it possible your student reacted, was annoying, or was being a nudge because of their need to annoy you, or do you think something may have been happening outside of your classroom that caused that student to behave in such a way?

Maybe there isn’t much you could have done, but take a moment to realize their behavior has nothing to do with you, it seems so contrary to our reaction, but in reality, maybe the student just needs your attention. Maybe it feels like you are providing positive reinforcement to bad behavior, but it is not, especially when we don’t make it about us.

Next time you have a student that seems to be a challenge in class, take a moment with that student to ask if they need something from you. Ask them if taking a walk, a moment of silence, or a minute with some music might be the thing they need to recenter them for the moment. When things are off for me (something went wrong in a meeting I just left, for example), a moment of silence to process might have been all I needed, but all too often class starts, and students are waiting for me to guide them in the lesson, and I am definitely not ready.

Stop dwelling on why they are being so “annoying,”, and consider the baggage that may be causing them a challenge. Have the empathy to support them, and offer the space they need to process, and potentially return to a space where they can learn the material you hope to offer.

We all carry baggage, and some days the bags we carry are too much and get in the way of what we are trying to achieve. Our students are no different, and I would hazard a guess that the bags they carry are often too big for them to carry, and your classroom may be a safe space for them to put them down. Do you want to offer them a shelf to place the bags, or add another bag for them to carry? As educators, we have the power to do either.

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