Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Teacherscribe's Teaching Tip #1 (Inservice Week)

Teacherscribe Teaching Tips inservice day #1

When you feel overwhelmed . . .

A perfect topic for the first week of inservice.  There is always so much going on: seeing your friends that you haven’t probably seen (in person at least) since May, meetings; getting your room together, meetings; unpacking supplies and new curriculum supplies; meetings; adjusting to new curriculum; meetings; open house; training on new software . . .  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Here is the first tip for dealing with being overwhelmed:

      1.  Forget about the ultimate outcome. 

I actually share this with my students whenever they fall behind.  They see that their grade is an “F”.  Then they look at the twelve missing assignments.  And they get swamped.  They lose hope and just wallow.

So my advice to them is just to buckle down and get caught up one assignment at a time.  I never expect them to go home and complete all of those 12 missing assignments in one night!  Instead, be just like Andy in The Shawshank Redemption and chip away at the stone.

When you focus on the ultimate outcome, most people go to the worst-case scenario.  The student thinks, Oh my God. I’m so far behind. I’m going to fail. I’ll have to take a summer class at the ALC . . .

They are focusing on the ultimate goal, which is so far down the road that they feel that they can’t get any momentum working toward attaining that goal. 

So if they forget about the ultimate outcome and focus instead on taking just one step toward improving their grade, eventually over time, they will have done enough steps to actually impact their final grade.

This is true for teachers too.

An example – whenever new legislation is passed (and when isn’t it, right?) we get hit over the head with the newest way to hold teachers accountable, whether it was through the Profiles of Learning or No Child Left Behind or now with Race to the Top . . . it’s easy to focus on all the new hoops we have to jump through.  When you focus on that ultimate outcome, it’s easy to lose hope and faith in our profession. 

Instead, focus on doing something that you can actually have control over.  In the example of legislation, don’t focus on what your eventual score will be as part of the new teacher evaluation system or instead of focusing on the terror of having to get a peer to review you this year as part of the teacher evaluation system, just focus on teaching the hell out of the 25 kids in your next class. 

There isn’t anything we can do about those ultimate legislative outcomes (I mean you can call your legislators and so on, but what kind of impact will that really have?)  But we can control hitting the learning target in our next class.  If we do that enough, we won’t have to worry about the ultimate outcome.

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