Extending grace shouldn’t be a one way street. And yet, many educators feel like they are constantly told to accommodate students and families while they themselves are held to rigid, unrealistic standards.
When you start to feel the resentment and frustration building, here are 3 shifts that can help:
- Instead of giving grace, think of giving people space to be themselves. Rather than trying to fit people into narrow boxes, expand the space you offer so folks are free to be inconsistent in how they think, feel, and behave. It's natural to have good days and bad ones, low moods and high moods. Allowing students and families space to move back and forth between these states of being can ease your stress and resentment.
- Stop making your work look effortless, and invite folks into the process. Teachers in general — and women especially — are conditioned to make everything we do look easy and natural. But this often backfires because it causes people to expect even more of us. Let families and students peek behind the scenes so they can see not only your hard work, but also your humanity.
- Say “thank you” instead of apologizing. Set a class culture of thanking one other for bearing with each other’s faults, and giving each other space to be your full selves. Apologies are necessary when someone's been hurtful or offensive, but making minor mistakes is part of being human, and not necessarily something to feel sorry for. Gratitude is a more positive, uplifting emotion that people feel good about participating in, so substitute thankfulness for apologies whenever possible.
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