I walked into my classroom one day just feeling… off. That’s the best way I can describe it. I was tired and already annoyed before my students had even walked into the classroom. I didn’t greet them at the door like I typically did, and found myself bothered by the fact that they all walked into the classroom talking with one another.
The morning was dragging on, it felt hard to get through our morning meeting, 15 minute phonics lesson, and reading groups. FINALLY, it was time for recess! But then I remembered something awful….. I had recess duty! It was the perfect way to make my day even worse. By the time 28 sweaty kids, plus myself, walked back into our classroom, a classroom with NO air conditioning, mind you, I was just done. My kids asked if they could do some free drawing during our read aloud time and I snapped at them. During our math lesson I was not tolerating any funny business, whatsoever.
I was not a good teacher that day, and worse off, I was down on myself for not being a good teacher. Finally, the day ended and all 29 of us went our separate ways. On my drive home I recounted my day and regretted being so short and unhappy with my class. Did they deserve to be the ones taking the brunt end of my bad day? No! They talked a little extra and were a little extra loud in the hallway, so what? They are first graders. They deserve some grace!
I ended my drive trying to figure out how to make it up to them the next day in class. Plenty of ideas flew through my mind. Ice cream party? No. Extra long recess? Not good enough. Then, finally it came to my mind.
The next morning I greeted each one of my students at the door with a smile and directed them to the rug to start our morning meeting a little earlier than normal. I had them all seated in front of me and told them I had something important to tell them, and with eager eyes they looked up at me waiting to hear what I had to say.
Then, I sat in front of all of my kids and apologized. I opened up my heart and was vulnerable in front of these 6 and 7 year olds. I admitted my mistake and let them know that it wasn’t their fault that I had an off day. I told them they are really great kids and that I was extremely lucky to be their teacher, and I meant it! And I told them we would have a better day.
And we did!
Here’s what I learned from that day. First, it sucks to have bad days! It’s hard to walk away from a day feeling defeated and regret your decisions. But it’s also okay to have those days. A bad day of teaching does not make you a bad teacher.
But here is the part that is the most important to remember:
It’s okay to have those bad days if you take the time to reflect on them and troubleshoot the day (or situation), so that next time you’re in that situation you can handle it a little better. It absolutely will not be perfect, but it’ll be a stair step process as you troubleshoot the next bad day and try to improve each time after. This is what leads you to the tools you need to cope with the bad teaching days. Troubleshooting and trying again. It’s what we teach our students to do anyway, isn’t it?!
You’re not a bad teacher- it’s just a bad day. You’ve got this.