Shifting Expectations

Shifting Expectations

Our 3rd Grade Classroom on The First Day of Snow

Often as teachers, we mask our emotions. We are suppose to be peppy all the time. For the most part, I am a glass half full person. For teacher wellness, I need to also share when things are just, meh.

I saw a meme the other day that said, “Don’t compare your backstage with someone else’s highlight reel.” So True! 

As teachers, many of us have this competitive streak. There are door decorating competitions, etc. During Parent Night, many parents will make “judgments” based upon the way a teacher’s classroom looks. The outer appearance. With that, we have amazing teachers are on Instagram. Many of us also post our own highlight reels to share with our students and their families. 

We have to remind ourselves, like we remind our students, not to compare so much.

Room ready. 

When I was in a doctoral program in Tallahassee, I would observed elementary teachers as a part of my job for reading research. We were teacher liaisons helping bridge the connections between K-12 teachers and professors. I learned then not to judge a teacher by their room.

One of my favorite teachers had this sign that said, “Please excuse the mess, my students are busy learning.” I absolutely loved this sign. This was a dynamic teacher who met students where they were at. She differentiated curriculums to meet the needs of her heterogeneous classroom and did it with style. Now mind you, the classroom was not Hoarderish, but a little cluttered. The windows were open and the fresh air cooled the room. The kids were smiling and working on group projects. It was sort of like curated clutterness, so to speak, where kids could explore their environment around them without fear of messing things up.

Flash forward.

Last fall, we moved to Indiana. My room had some curated clutter too. I love Project Based Learning (PBL). I was in person teaching at a Catholic school. My students were smiling and learning. There was joy in the classroom. However, when I received my teacher reviews, I was often surprised. One of my teacher reviews said the following, “I wish that I had something good to write. However, there was nothing good that I observed in Mrs. Gilford’s classroom this morning.”


So what was happening? My morning was terrific! It was first snow! Being originally from Florida, I loooooove the snow! Also we lived in Cali for almost 10 years and would rarely see snow, except for when we went to Reno. It was first snow. In homeroom, I like to share about Fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). We had spoken of kindness earlier that morning. We also shared stories that were connected with kindness. 

With that, the fresh snow.

That morning, I saw a teachable moment, some of my 3rd graders were bullying each other. I thought, there is beautiful fresh snow of the grown, why not do a group activity? As such we built mini snowmen together. The two alpha males in my class who had been locking heads started to be kind to one another (I purposely put them in a group together). They were laughing and snow sloshed around a bit on the carpet. I knew it would dry and we had papertowels. I was focused on the social-emotional learning of my students. There was joy in my classroom, lot of joy. 

So why did the principal not see this? Perhaps, it was my lesson to learn as well?

I am now teaching at a virtual hybrid catholic school. I am a founding teacher, which means that I can help to create our school culture. I do not have to worry about keeping a picture perfect room. My new challenges are creating a virtual maker space where my students feel comfortable to share. Perhaps, I will call our maker space, our backstage.