Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously!

Mauka Meadows 008This is a picture of a place on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It is part of a coffee plantation, Mauka Meadows.  I took this picture on a visit with some friends. At the time I was an assistant superintendent of schools. It was a big job and often took a lot out of me. One of our friends said as he looked over this beautiful view, “Everyone needs to come here at least once a year so that you learn not to take yourself so seriously.” It was just the advice I needed at the time. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day solving of problems, juggling all sorts of details and events that we forget how to stop and realize that we are only a small part of this amazing planet.  As an educator I am very passionate about the opportunities that education provides.  I want everyone to have a great education!  What my friend was trying to tell me was that I couldn’t do all and change the world by myself. I now know  that we have to work together to create sustainable change.

Sometimes, we really need to get away from our daily routine, step back and see where we fit in the world. Do you have a place to go where you are so amazed by the beauty of nature that it reminds you to be grateful and not take yourself so seriously?  You don’t need to go to Hawaii.  It might be to stand over your sleeping child or having your dog or cat greet you at the door after a long day.

We get caught up in trying to make the world a better place.  We get frustrated by the constraints that stop us from making our vision into a reality.  Every job has constraints.  Ask any of your friends and acquaintances what constraints do they deal with in their work, that makes them crazy.  Everyone has a list.

As part of my new year’s goals I am going to keep a gratitude journal. I will let you know how it goes.  Happy New Year Everyone.

Are You an Exhausted Educator?

DangerDid you know that a lot of research has been done on educator energy dips.  Between Halloween and Christmas is one of the lowest dips for educators. A study done for the Beginning Teacher program in California(BTSA) found that beginning teachers go through several stages during the year.  It has been my experience that many of these stages apply to all educators regardless of your role or experience.  Here is a graphic describing the phases:

first-year-teachers-phases

 

It’s really time to take care of yourself.  You know what that means: eat right, exercise(even just a little will help), sleep,etc! When school starts we are all usually filled with excitement and energized by the challenge of the new year.  It takes so much energy to get everything up and running.  If you are an administrator, for example, you spend countless hours organizing everything, keeping things under control, building supportive and caring relationships and monitoring and adjusting everything.  If you are a teacher, you have spent the last three months creating a classroom climate that functions smoothly.  You started with nothing and made it happen.  This is exhausting.  You most likely have come a long way teaching and reinforcing  rules and procedures as well as creating a climate that is rich in productive and positive relationships.  You may also not be quite where you need your students to be. This can be discouraging. It seems like you are rolling a boulder up hill! November and December can be trying times in schools.

If you can, take a little time to reflect.  Work on your own growth mindset! Monitor your own self-talk just as you do for your students or staff.  Perhaps you could employ the power of YET!

Try Saying:

My students do understand multiplying fractions yet!

My classroom does not function as smoothly as possible yet!

My staff is not functioning as a productive Professional Learning Community  yet!

You might also try creating your own set of beliefs that can serve as guideposts for improving your practice.

I believe that through practice, perseverance and hard work my students will learn.

I believe that I can encourage my students to accept challenges.

I believe that I can create a climate where my students will take risks and learn from mistakes.

Every classroom, school, district and state has unique sets of problems, issues and challenges.  We have to remember that we can only create change though our circle of influence, but it may be bigger than we think.

Circle of Influence