It’s been almost a month since my last post, and I mentioned that I wanted to try to be a bit more consistent with my content…
Ok. In my defense, I did set a realistic goal of uploading once a month. Technically, I’m succeeding because I uploaded once in July, and it’s still August.
The new school year officially began on August 15th, so I’m getting back into the groove of teaching again. Every year is incredibly different, so I always try to reflect on my previous years in the classroom. This helps me sort through my successes and struggles in order to set a plan for the new school year.
Education isn’t static. It’s evolving every year, and teachers must grow and adapt as well. Sometimes, we try things in our classrooms that don’t work, don’t fit or don’t meet the needs of our students. I’ve been thinking about this new school year all summer, and I’ve come up with a list of a few things I plan to do less of in the 2018-2019 year.
#1: Treating Interruptions as Annoyances
Anyone who has ever been around littles knows that they sometimes like to repeat the words you say or chime in with a story or observation. This used to annoy the heck out of me during circle or story time. I would say things like ‘it’s listening time’ or ‘I can’t read the book if you’re talking’. But after thinking about it a bit, I realized that I was actually discouraging my students from sharing their ideas with me or making connections between our activity and their experiences.
What I’m going to try instead: Saying things like ‘Let’s push pause on the story, so we can hear this idea’. I am going to make a conscious effort to let my students use their voices and share with the group. Hopefully, they will realize that I care about the things they have to say which will make them more comfortable talking to me when they have questions or problems during the school year.
#2: Saying ‘You Can’t ______ Until You ______’:
When a child is frustrated or acting out, it’s usually because they want to do something other than the thing you just asked them to do. I used to deal with this by saying ‘You can’t have snack until you clean up the blocks’ or ‘you can’t join us for a story if you’re angry’. Saying can’t to a child is basically like telling them what they want is impossible. They’re not going to listen to what you’re saying if they think you’re taking away the possibility that they will get they want. It’s like when you’re upset and that one person tells you to calm down, but it only enrages you more. Basically that, but on a kid level.
What I’m going to try instead: Validating the child’s emotions and asking them why they feel this way. If a little one is not picking up or following directions, I will ask them ‘why’. They may say they’re tired, they want to keep playing, etc. I will then respond by saying that I hear them, and I want them to help me put a plan together so we can reach their goal. By involving the child in the process they will hopefully be more willing to ‘follow directions’ because they have a chance to contribute. I tried this last week, and the frustrated child helped me devise a plan that was quite close to the usual procedure. And as a bonus, I also saved about 20 minutes by avoiding an almost guaranteed meltdown. 10/10 will try again.
#3: Not communicating with my administration enough
I just started my 4th year at my current school. Although I’m very happy overall, there have been some massive struggles along the way. Over the past few years, I kept a lot of my negative feelings to myself because I didn’t want to cause problems. This came back to haunt me in a big way back in May-June because I finally broke my silence about a few things. I was immediately met with ‘Well, you haven’t said anything before today’. Fast forward a few months (and a lot of tears later), I now realize that my administration wasn’t out to challenge or distrust me. They just wished I had spoken up sooner.
What I’m going to try instead: Not waiting so long speak my mind. I also don’t want to be the teacher that’s always complaining or asking for help, so I have to find a balance. Already this year, I’ve spoken to my principal about a problem I was facing, and we opened a dialogue to try to solve it together. This is much better.
#4: Staying at work longer than necessary
Look. Like every other teacher on the planet, I have a lot on my to-do list. I’m only contracted to be at school until 4pm, but last year, I would be at work until 5 or even 6 several times a week. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even be that productive. I would just feel guilty if I wasn’t trying to accomplish as much as possible and then some. If I keep going at this rate, I will burn out, and I don’t want that to happen.
What I’m going to try instead: Actually leaving at 4pm! This might not seem that difficult, but in just the 8 official school days we’ve had so far, I’ve stayed past 4 o’clock on at least 4 of them. This, by far, will be my biggest challenge of the year.
I’m sure there’s other things I could add to this list, but these 4 are going to be my main focus for this school year. I hope to revisit this list in the future to see if I truly left these behing or if they’re still going to be hanging around.
If you’re also a teacher, is there anything you’d like to leave in last school year?
Until next time,