You know, that feeling---the one that says you're not making a difference in the classroom, that you're no good at this teaching-thing and that some students, no matter what you do, just aren't going to pass your class? Yeah. It feels a lot like a dementor, doesn't it? Sucking your teaching-soul right out of you, making you feel like you'll never be happy... as a teacher... ever... again...
This post is somewhat in response to a two part blog a wrote awhile ago, which you should check out if you haven't already.
Dementors are Real
Dementors are one of the reasons I constantly fall back on tutoring to give me a confidence boost, although tutoring can have similar moments of doubt. (More on that another time.)
Hubby says I care too much. I don't know how not to, though. Every absence, every tardy, every missed assignment, every bombed quiz is a stab at my heart. I know how much those things hurt their grades and how doing the homework and practicing in and out of class would help their English and their confidence in writing.
I like being the "best" teacher or the "favorite," teacher, or even the generally, "liked" teacher. (Who doesn't?) So when I get a student that is angry with syllabus policies, is lazy but still wants a good grade, or flat out hates me, I get a bit drained. Like a dementor is standing over me.
I felt so much better, taking a moment to myself. Then, as I savored the last bit of chocolate, I thought about the students that were progressing in my class. (There's actually quite a few of them.) Nancy, for example, wrote a paragraph with unity. In all the time I've known her, she'd never been able to do that. Jorge told me that he loved the Book Talk Assignment and couldn't wait for his presentation at the end of the semester, and Vy was practically bouncing when I told her I liked her revised thesis for her essay. Like Harry Potter, it's important to remember those happy-moments in teaching.
I don't talk about religion too often on my blogs, but something else that has really helped me combat my dementors (especially lately) is prayer. When I know a difficult student is going to talk to me during my office hours or after class when everyone else has gone, I say a quiet plea for help. I pray that I can see things from his/her perspective, that I can convey the concern and love that I have for him/her, that I'll be able to stay fair and stick to the policies that are in place. God helps me during those tough times when I ask. When I don't ask, I'm often SOL, and I regret the exchanges I have with these difficult students.
I'm sure there are other ways to combat dementors. I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
Just in conclusion, I think it's also important to recognize that we don't have to face these dementors alone. We have family (boy does Hubby help me!). We have coworkers and friends. Teaching is tough. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
Tutoring ESL, college writing, reading, and English grammar since 2005!