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A friend of mine sent me this today. It’s up in his staffroom as a thirty-day challenge for frustrated teachers who lack the time, or imagination, to get a hold of their desks, classes and lives. Although this isn’t the sort of thing I go in for, I get why others might. I don’t like it, but fine. Go with it. If it helps you then great, wicked. I really don’t think “Play some relaxing music while your students are working today” (day 19) is a great idea, but “Give a compliment to a student who often seems to get in trouble‘ (day 16) might well help to make everybody’s life a little easier that day.

The website from which it originates has this to say about the challenge:

Let’s face it; teaching can sometimes be a stressful gig. It is so easy to fall in the trap of focusing on the negative, but doing that only gives you more stress! There are so many little things that you can do to make your day a little bit happier.

The free 30 Day Happy Teacher Challenge is designed to help you connect with students, build staff rapport, organize your school life, keep yourself healthy, and help you focus on the positive!

But.

Then there’s this. Day 30.

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“Greet students at the door …” All good so far.

“… and give them high-fives as they enter.” Ummm, okay.

“If they are in high-school, they will roll their eyes …” Yes. Yes they will.

” … but they’ll secretly think you’re awesome.” Wait. Wait there. What? They’ll what?

They’ll secretly think you’re awesome? What school is this, Sweet Valley High? Jefferson High School? Grange Hill? And which decade are we in? “Yo, Mr F! Can I get some fries with that high-five? You gonna be down Al’s Drive-in tonight with your gal?”

I mean, come on. Our job really isn’t to be cool, and you really can’t fake it if you ain’t. That’s the whole point of cool: there isn’t a checklist. You’ve either got it or not.

By all means high-five da kidz on their way in, but don’t talk like Ali G because they haven’t heard of him, and don’t think that if you tell them what your favourite band is (because you recently bought your first NME for fifteen years, which no-one reads now anyway) they’ll want to “hang out” in your room at lunch and chat about whether Dark Side of the Moon really did have a greater impact than Selling England by The Pound. So stop trying to be awesome. Stop trying to be liked. Make your lame jokes, but know that they’re lame and grin like the fool you know you are, rather than the fool who genuinely thinks Y10 love you because you wear white sunnies inside.

Just teach. Teach well and they’ll be happy and successful. If they end up liking you then great. Well done: 12 year-olds like you, you Prince among Men, you Queen of Cool. But don’t make this an aim, because you’ll probably end up unhappy.

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