I’m Happy You’re Here

Today’s post is inspired by a tweet from Science Leadership Academy Principal Chris Lehmann:

Another good question: do you tell the students how much you enjoy having them in your school?

Students at my school are polite. They often hold doors, offer to help, and greet people politely when they meet others campus. One thing they often do as they pack up their things and leave class is say “Thank you.”

And I say “thank you,” too.

It’s important that students know that they are the reason you are there. And it’s important that parents feel you are happy their children are in school.

I worry sometimes that we send a different message. I know we have all had teachers or known teachers who inspire the question “Why are you teaching?” They seem to dislike students. They seem to dislike their colleagues. They don’t want to do the work of teaching. All of us have bad days, but I’m talking about people who spend years like this.

I will never forget this one guy I worked with in my first year. He taught history. We earned one sick/personal day per month, and he took his as soon as he earned it, like clockwork. He hated the school, he hated the kids, and he hated many of the people he worked with. I’m not sure why he was putting himself (and everyone else) through such a miserable experience.

If we are in a teaching situation in which we genuinely feel that level of unhappiness, we owe it to ourselves and to the students to get out and find something else. It may just be the school. I speak from the experience of having stayed in teaching jobs in which I was unhappy. There was always something I could find to enjoy about each of these jobs, but ultimately, if you are not happy, you won’t be able to make the students feel like you’re happy they’re in your class or your school.

Maya Angelou

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

8 thoughts on “I’m Happy You’re Here”

  1. I tell kids “thank you” often and almost always at the end of class as they leave the room. I also tell them I love them and appreciate them. I thank them for allowing me to teach them and for teaching me. My college debate coach always said, ‘Preciate you, and now I get it!

  2. This is so very true. I remember one day telling my students that I had meetings all day and how I’d rather be teaching them. They looked at me and said you would? There were stunned… I need to tell them more.

    1. Definitely! They’ll remember it. Sad but true—they probably don’t hear it a lot from other teachers, which is why they were surprised.

  3. Somehow, this year I was able to get my kids to agree that school is too short and there are too many fun things to do to finish at 3:00. We’ve voted to have school go until 5:00. I haven’t been able to convince anyone in leadership that it’s such a great idea, but it sure makes me feel like my students like hanging out with me. The feeling is mutual.

    1. That’s great! We went from 50-minute blocks to 75-minute blocks, and now all of us agree when we have to shorten the schedule for any reason that 50 minutes is just not going to cut it.

  4. Thanks for this reminder, Dana. We all need to make sure our students know that we are happy to see them every day. Just a simple smile or how are you goes a long way.

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