Why teachers should get to school early.

Serendipity often shows up right before the kids walk through the door.
Serendipity often shows up right before the kids walk through the door.

Teachers as a whole, are generally considered to be prompt, fastidious perfectionists that are maniacal about the inner workings of their classrooms. Some teachers feel the compulsion to arrive at work at the crack of dawn and settle in and begin preparing lesson plans, photocopying, and classroom organization hours before the first student walks into the class (that’s me). While this is true for many in the profession, I often see teachers who waltz into school as the bell rings and get right down to work instructing students. Now I know that many teachers simply can not afford, nor have the time to arrive as early as I have in my career. What I am saying is that teachers who ignore the need to have some personal ‘start-up time’ are the ones who don’t engage their students or inspire action in their classrooms.

Personally I don’t know how those teachers who walk in at the first bell, do it. I need at least 45 minutes in my room to get myself amped up for the day. I call it Jumpstarting. I know some teachers who go to the gym before they get to school, and it’s very similar. Take some extra time in the morning to visualize what that lesson will look like. I have rehearsed in front of an empty classroom, asking questions just to see if I can get my mind into the perspective of my students.

I asked teachers who show up at the bell how they were able to walk in and just start teaching without having any time to get revved-up. I’d like to go through some of the responses I’ve received over the years and refute them as I go:

 

  • I’ve been doing this so long, I don’t need to prep anymore.

 

It’s the ‘I’m old school and do shit my way’ teacher. This teacher has not kept up with the times and is still instructing like it’s 1987. S/he doesn’t feel the need to be on Twitter or collaborate with others in the building. Ugh. I’ve been a teacher for well over a decade and I can tell you with full certainty that if you do not reinvent yourself and your curriculum every year, you are failing yourself and your students. There are so many new ways of accessing your discipline’s content that you could present it a different way every year for the rest of your career and still not find all the different ways to do it. Even if you liked the way something went last year, you still want to tweak it and make it just that much better, if you can.

 

  • I do my preparation at home so I don’t need to be in the building as much.

 

This I can almost agree with. I know many many teachers who have family obligations (children need to get dropped off at school, I get it) and who get worn out from spending so much of their time at school. They might not like the fact that teachers don’t get paid for all the extra time we spend in the building. I would counter that we don’t get paid no matter where we do the work that it takes outside of our contract. Some of the best epiphanies happen when you are surrounded by your muse. For me, that muse of education is my classroom. When I am surrounded by the tools that help me build quality experiences for my students, I become even more motivated than before.

 

  • The less time I spent around these kids, the better.

 

Please leave the profession. You suck. Being around students who want to learn inspires me to be a better teacher today than I was yesterday. This is your full-time job! Waking up in the morning is inspiring for me because I GET TO HELP PEOPLE LEARN COOL SHIT! If you don’t like doing it, then do something else. Being around kids as they are in the midst of learning is one of the biggest endorphin rush a person can get. It’s is a high better than any drug. I have personally met many teachers like this, and I fear that it is these teachers that smear our profession.

When you give yourself that extra little bit of time to prime the tank, you really do hit the day at full speed when the kids walk through the door. They can feel your energy and it is infectious. Learning how to generate inspiration in your class takes time. Time you might not be paid for but time that is immeasurably valuable to your mind and soul as you go through your career.

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