(In my need to find some positives and joy right now, I finally finished this post that I started a couple of weeks ago.)
I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to analyze and isolate the things that I think I do well as a teacher in order to build on them. Some of them are things I really have to work at doing and some, I feel pretty confident, are just a part of who I am, at least at this point in my life.
One of those things is that I’m willing to embarrass myself. I do actually feel the embarrassment, at least usually. I just don’t let that embarrassment stop me from doing things. Especially things that I find fun or that I think others might enjoy with me.
On Friday mornings, at my school, they (I really don’t know who they is in this instance) play music over the loudspeakers across the school. One recent Friday I was downstairs talking with a friend and colleague when the Cha Cha Slide came on.
I will not claim those moves by any stretch of the imagination. I will say that I danced in the hallway outside of classrooms where I did not know any of those kids for several minutes. Then I went upstairs and danced in my classroom with my students.
One of the things that I think makes me pretty good at my job is this lack of shame. Kids will roll their eyes or laugh, but kids are human and they appreciate genuineness and joy. Not being held back by shame allows me to be real and open and for students to really get to know me. The relationships are easier to begin and to build and strengthen when I’m not worried about what others think of me.
That feels counterintuitive. And yet. When I am carefree and not invested in how I appear to others, I actually find myself appearing better to others. Especially to kids.
I’ve also noticed that many of my favorite teacher friends and colleagues, the ones I like and respect (liking is a personal thing and respecting is a professional thing and I don’t always have both for someone) are also willing to be carefree and joyous.
I don’t know how to ask applicants about this when they interview for a teaching job but I’m starting to think it’s a quality worth finding.