How many of us have used one of the above phrases with our students at some point? I know I have. However, it may be sending the wrong message.
First, I understand why we all want to celebrate Fridays. Teaching is a stressful job. I have found that one of the main causes of stress is wanting to control what is out of my control, or not knowing the dividing line between what we can control, and what we cannot control.
As educators, we deal with that frequently. We know that our teaching is critical to students’ growth, not just on assessment data, but overall intellectual development. But at the same time, we know that there are many factors which impact student growth that are out of our control, such as home environment, family situations, health concerns, societal structures, etc. The dividing line between what we can control and what we cannot, in regards to the fundamental issues of student outcomes, is unclear. Add to that the pressures with encroaching deadlines, changing policies, stacks of papers to grade, the 25 phone calls you need to make, when you seem to not have time to make even one.
It’s clear, we deserve to celebrate that it is Friday!
But, I caution against celebrating this with your students. Remember, your students do not see all of those behind the scenes pressures you face. They see you as the lead learner in their classroom. They see you as an advocate for growth. They see you as a caring adult, who wants what is best for them.
Some students come to us facing issues of abuse and neglect. The time they are with you in the classroom is a safe space.
All kids begin school with a natural love for learning. We are designed to be learners, and education feeds that natural desire. But, at some point, many students lose that desire.
When a student hears you celebrating the weekend, they don’t hear you celebrating a break from all of those behind the scene pressures. They hear you celebrating a break from the classroom. They hear you celebrating a break from learning. And, perhaps most tragically of all, they hear you celebrating a break from them.
It may seem disingenuous to privately celebrate the approaching weekend, and not want to share it with students, but we do this all of the time. If we are dealing with financial struggles, we don’t share that with our students. There are family issues that we have that we don’t feel obligated to share with our students. If we are feeling gastric intestinal pressures, and suddenly we are granted a reprieve, we do not let students know of that joy.
Instead of celebrating Fridays, I encourage you to celebrate learning that could occur over the weekend. For example, “It’s Friday, which means we won’t get to be together for a couple of days. I am going to read about dolphins over the weekend, and can’t wait to see you again on Monday.”
Suddenly, school doesn’t seem like a chore to you, but rather something you look forward to. This attitude will permeate through your classroom, and help to build lifelong learners.