Friday, February 1, 2008

What is my responsibility to my students?

We had a two hour delay this morning, which is typically a lovely thing. In fact, an hour into it I was still wishing they would close schools so that I could have a relaxing day at home with my daughters. Then things fell apart. The four year old and I could not do anything right by each other. There was screaming and slamming of doors. (For my personal shame, I'll not share who did what of that.) By the time I dropped them off with their babysitter I was a wreck. I drove to school in tears.

Having a two hour delay requires rethinking our schedule and plans for the day. As I was trying to do so, in the midst of feeling awful, I couldn't come up with anything I felt capable of doing. I wanted to just say to my students, "I'm having an awful day and I need you to get a book, get comfortable, and read." But my students deserve better from me. Not that reading is a bad use of their time in any way, but I can't just drop my teaching responsibilities because I'm having a bad day. That said, it takes a lot of energy and effort just to put on a happy face to greet my students when I feel like I do today, much less do any powerful instruction.

So, what is my responsibility? Should my students be completely unaware of issues I face? Should they know if I'm having a bad day? Does their age matter, older students being more able to deal with understanding their teacher's mood swings or such? Is it my job to teach my students well regardless?

As an aside, I've decided we are going to do some serious independent reading time today. I'm making hot chocolate for them and we'll curl up with bean bags, pillows, books, and our cups. But, after lunch it's back to serious learning.

1 comment:

Doug Noon said...

When the lesson plan "goes south" for whatever reason (and I wonder now where that term comes from...) I don't hesitate telling students there's been a slight planning glitch, but I don't bother sharing the details unless they're interesting or necessary. The less said, the better, most of the time. If it isn't one thing, it's another...

What I wonder about from your post, though, is the distinction between "serious independent reading" and "serious learning." Can't they be one and the same? Even more emphatically, shouldn't they be? I'm working on a reading workshop system for my group right now, so it's an issue that's pretty close to home at the moment.

Hope you had a good day after the rough start :)