stressed teacherThere aren’t many peophttple busier than teachers.

Between a room full of kids, state and federal mandates for learning standards, testing, parents, PTAs, homework to grade, tests to give, lesson plans to write, tutoring to provide, lunch duty today and bus duty tomorrow, extra-curricular, co-curricular…

Well that gets us through one day.

I have the opportunity to travel and visit with teachers across the country and the theme that resonates across my travels is that teaching is tougher now than it used to be. Even with all the technology and access to information it is tougher to get kids to pay attention, do their work, show some respect and expect some in return, listen, be kind and just flat out try harder. I know great teachers who feel the hill they are climbing is getting steeper every year and their opportunities to affect real change in the lives of their students is becoming rarer.

With this as the backdrop I often ask teachers what is the most difficult part of their job. Is it the pay? The hours? The parents? The workload? Inevitably the answer almost always comes back to the difficulty the teachers are having getting their students to be engaged in learning and to be a part of the class rather than a disruption.

This leads to my next question which is, “So what are you doing about the behaviors in your classroom?”

The answer usually comes with a stare that would indicate that I have lost my mind. “I don’t have time to deal with behaviors!” is the incredulous answer. And they are right. As we have historically defined behaviors, teachers no longer have the bully pulpit once given to teachers. Gone are the days when a child would get in trouble at home for getting in trouble at school.Instead, teachers are questioned and sometimes even blamed for their students’ behaviors. The hill keeps getting steeper.

It is time to start redefining what a behavior is and how it affects the learning environment and what a teacher can realistically do about it. It is time to redefine expectations and make them match resolve and resources. It is time to redefine the role we expect our educational system to play in the life preparedness of not just your child but the nation’s children. It is time to redefine the priorities that have created an atmosphere that has teachers proclaiming “Who has time for behaviors?”.

Over the next several weeks we will have ongoing discussions about behaviors, the functions they serve, the impact of behaviors on the classroom and class/school culture, and practical differences between proactive and reactive change strategies. Educators are this nation’s frontline in the battles against poverty and illiteracy and are our best hope for helping our kids understand opportunity, work ethic, and expectations.

I am personally looking forward to having this very important discussion with you… Jay Burcham