Leave Work at Work

I don’t mean lesson plans, preparation, and marking. I am talking about the emotions and sentiments you may accrue throughout the school day. Whatever you do, do not bring your “negative” work home with you. One thing is for sure, adolescent kids are going to tick you off from time to time. You may get into small disputes with students. You may experience small group or individual attitudes that will implicitly or explicitly weigh on you. But it is best to try and let it all go when you walk out the front door at the end of your day. The contrary will result in the dreaded “burn out” or a dissatisfied and bitter sentiment towards your job. Trust me, you need to be able to put your “teacher hat” on and take it off, especially in that first year and leave work at work.

You will experience a remarkable transformation process both professionally and personally in that first year of teaching. Experiences from your classroom will enrich or completely change some of your pre-conceived notions about life. It will enrich how you communicate with others. But most times, those negative experiences of your day, like when a student is just getting on your last nerve, are best left at school.

In teacher’s college you learn to park your biases as soon as you park your car in the morning. This means that you ought not to carry any pre-judged expectations in with you and treat each and every student with a fresh slate and an unprejudicial mind. Well the same standard of “parking” should be upheld when you leave. Once that day is over, clear the slate with a permanent eraser. Of course this does not mean that students’ consistent behavior and actions, positive or negative, are to be forgotten each day. This will drive you equally as crazy. You need to set some parameters for students who constantly misbehave and have a little bit of a longer leash for students whose instances of inappropriate behavior are only anomalies of their character. Once I am on my way home, I try to forget about my spats with students or instances that students did not work so well independently or those that simply wasted away class time. Your trip home should be a time to decompress. Whenever you have a group of 30 students, negativity on the job is going to happen from time to time. Being in the business of people ensures that teachers are going to experience some friction every now and then but it is important to remember not to take that friction personally and more importantly, not to take that friction home with you.


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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