February 15, 2023
Whew, we are past Valentine’s Day and I hope that you have all survived, or are healing well.
If you have never taught, or never taken over a class midyear, here’s an analogy: It’s like walking into a den of lions to train them for a circus, but they have been starved for a week and you were soaking in a raw meat bath all day.
It can be intense, to say the least.
This shortest month of the year is packed with the holiday of love. Sure to distract from even the most engaging of lessons as students go through the life cycle of crushes. Do they like me? Are we “dating” (i.e., publicly being seen together as a we/us/they instead of individually, whether any actual dates take place)? Then there are the over the top gifts between sweethearts and friends. The inevitable school policy dictating how and where deliveries will go and be stored. And, let’s not forget, the lost class time sobbing in the bathroom or visiting the nurse or counselor as they recover from their broken heart.
And then we have the President’s Day 3 day weekend. Yay. A break!
Keeping the students focused around the drama this month can be a challenge. But the sweet little Valentine cards and trinkets that some students give you–either as a big production so everyone knows, discretely placed on your desk when no one is looking, or lingers after everyone else left so no one knows they actually like their teacher.
I always find gifts from students to be something cherished, especially in middle school and as their Reading/Language Arts teacher that no one liked. Most of my students came from low income families, so gifting wasn’t always possible. Some items, I could tell, were secondhand items they found for me or were passing on. The handmade items crafted from the heart, whether they had artistic ability or not made me misty-eyed, knowing the effort and thought put into it. I don’t remember if it was Valentine’s or not, but I’ll never forget the student that brought me a Dr Pepper (my favorite) that he had bought and kept sitting on his dresser all weekend to bring me. He had only enough money for one when he went to the store, and, as much as he wanted one for himself, he opted to save it for me instead. I still get tears in my eyes thinking of it, especially since he recently contacted me and told me he was graduating, in spite of having dropped out.
Instead of fighting against what their focus is this month, how can you incorporate it into the learning and help them engage and retain their skills.
I’d love to know if you are the teacher that decorates and embraces the holiday or does not. Comment below or find me on social media and let me know!
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