Refresh your Perspective on Teaching for a New Start
It’s January. A new year.
For most people, New Year’s represents a fresh start, but for those of us in education – it’s more like the halfway mark. And, although we enjoy the break (believe me) we know that in just a few days we’ll be right back where we were a few weeks ago.
December was a great time to take stock of the year and reflect on where we have been and now, it’s time to look forward. To make plans.
And, it’s the perfect time to breathe some new life into this school year.
1. Use Your Down time to “Power Down”
I know, I know. Down time, what’s that? But, squint really really hard and you’ll find it.
It’s there in the moment before your partner or kids wake up and your dog needs out. It’s there in the classroom, after the students leave, the meetings are over, and the custodian’s been through. It’s there in the space after dinner and before switching on a screen. It’s there right before bed. It’s there in those little quiet moments. The ones that we rush through to get to the next thing.
Think of where your little moments of down time occur each day and as you prepare to re-enter the menagerie of chaos that is sometimes (alright, maybe oftentimes) school – use those little moments to slow down. To breathe. To relax. Even if it’s just a minute – recognize that you have a minute, a whole 60 seconds to decompress. Start to squirrel away these moments and “power down” when you can – reserve your energy.
The work will always be there – we don’t need to rush to it.
2. Reconsider Your “Yes’s” and “No’s”
Saying “No” can be hard because most of the time we want to stay yes.You want to give our time and energy to our students and colleagues. You are willing to go the extra mile. That’s what makes you a great educator. But, your time is one of your most valuable assets and protecting it will help both you and your students. You will always put students first, but placing value on your own time will help you to be the best teacher you can be. There are lots of great ways to say it besides just saying “No” and many ways to positively handle responses. And it gets easier with practice.
And, as hard as it to say “No”, it is often even harder for educators to say “Yes”.
Learn to say “Yes”. Listen to the voice in your head asking you for a break. You need to give to yourself when It is vital for your own well-being and this means saying yes to you.
3. Remember Your Purpose
Remembering Your purpose is a powerful resilience strategy that we don’t take advantage of often enough. (click here for more on this strategy) Setting forth each day knowing that you are in the position you are in because you chose to be there and knew you could make a difference can have a massive impact on how we go about your day.
By going back to why you started you can connect with those initial reasons for entering the profession and leverage your past inspiration to reclaim your joy.
If you are in a tough school, facing challenging behaviors, you are there because you decided that you could make a difference there. Use that intent to fuel your confidence and positivity as you face challenges and conquer your goals.
Take time to remind yourself of the reason you got into education. Why was it so important that you enter this profession? Chances are you had some lofty idealistic goals when you started out. There is no reason that those same goals shouldn’t still inspire you today. The difference is now you are making those goals happen.
4. Do One Thing at a Time
Do one thing at a time. It sounds simple enough right?
Well, consider this: On average, an educator makes over 1,500 educational decisions in a single school day. This alone demonstrates why teachers can often be seen doing many things at once.
Answering a question, while writing a pass, taking attendance, and motioning to the student in the back to have a seat. Sound familiar?
In reality, it is nearly impossible to focus on just one thing at a time. But, when we can, it can make a significant difference in our approach to teaching and learning and our mindset about our positions.
You see, multi-tasking is actually counter-productive. Which, in itself seems counterproductive. But, multi-tasking reduces your productivity by 40%!
When you are multi-tasking you are stretching your brain in different directions, you aren’t focused on any one things, and long-term it can take its toll on our concentration and perspective toward our job.
So, take a moment to just focus on the task at hand – you’ll get through tasks quicker and with more focus and ease.
Fresh Start No Matter What Time of Year
After a break, it’s common practice to review the guidelines and expectations with students (and staff).
Make it a time to also review your perspective. You don’t have to wait for a new school year for a fresh start. It can happen right now.