Every single person that I know of has had a bad day. One of those days when all you want to do is be at home by yourself with the sheets over your face. Hopefully we don't have too many of those days, but we all know what it feels like. So we all understand that when you are having a bad day, conflict with another person is magnified because of the state of mind you are in. Now think about this in the classroom.
Each and ever student that walks onto campus each morning has a unique set of experiences that comes with them. Many students have had to overcome hardships that we cannot imagine. Many deal with struggles that may not seem drastic to us, but they are overwhelming to the student. Teachers also come to school with a unique set of experiences when they come to class. These experiences, struggles, and hardships are real to whomever is facing them. A student could be having the best or worst day of his/her life. Likewise, the teacher may be having the worst or best day of his/her life.
There are so many examples of teachers or student not understanding each other and that leading to failure in the classroom. A teacher may feel that the homework was of the utmost importance, but may not realize that the student is facing seemingly insurmountable odds at home. A student may be acting up and not realizing that the teacher is experience hard times.
How in the world do you tackle this reality? How can a teacher possibly understand the context in which the student arrives each day? Well the answer is easy. Schools and the teachers in them must create a culture of caring. Students need to know that the teachers are there because they love them and that there is support in the classroom. The teacher may not know every detail about the struggles of the student, but the respect is there and that means the world. We cannot have success in schools if we do not have relationships in schools. This starts with an enthusiastic hello, compliments, questions about the weekend, humor, showing up to events in which students perform and communication home. If students see this support and love, they will be there for us as well on our bad days. Our most important job starts with caring about kids. If you have that at your core, the rest is just about working hard. Be there for your students on their good days and bad days. Leading is Teaching.