Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Teacherscribe's Teaching Tip #2 (Inservice Week)

Teacherscribe Teaching Tips inservice day #2

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    2.  Focus on the next right action.

The first step, forget about the ultimate outcome sets the context for this next step.  If you spend an awful lot of time worrying about the ultimate outcome, most people tend to go to the worst possible outcome.  This creates fear.  Fear kills hope.  And that stops us dead in our tracks.

Whenever we start thinking that way, Michael Hyatt offers some advice: “Focus on doing the next right thing.”

I have actually used this in my every day routine.  I think of this when I show finish hall duty and walk into my class during my prep.  If I have 50 essays waiting for me to grade, I should simply chip away at them. 

But what do I tend to do? 

I check my email.  I see what’s happening on my Twitter or Instagram feeds. I read the news.  I chat with a colleague.  I do all this other stuff that simply isn’t the next right thing.

So when I have those 50 essays starting at me, I shut my door, close my laptop, get out my pen, and do the next right thing, which is grab the essay on top and grade it.  I certainly won’t get them all graded in that prep block, but I will get some momentum built up and I’ll feel like I am accomplishing something, which will help motivate me.

Another way of thinking this is develop a bias for action.  It’s always better to be doing something that moves you closer (even if it’s a micro-step closer) to your goal.

If you do enough of the next right thing, those add up and take care of the ultimate outcome.

This relates to my personal life too.  I’ve been on a quest to drop some weight and to get in shape.

It’s so easy to step on the scale, see absolutely no weight loss (if not weight gain!) and get frustrated.  Every time that happens (and it happens way toooooo often), I just repeat that mantra “Do the next right thing,” which for me is to drink some water, get some form of exercise (whether it’s taking the kids to the pool, hopping on the treadmill for a quick run, taking the kids for a bike ride, or even taking the kids to a park).  Those might not seem like huge steps, but they’re all better than grabbing a donut and plopping on the couch.

I get no momentum from sitting on the couch.  But by doing the next right thing, something (or anything, really) active, I get a sense of accomplishment.  That builds momentum and that reminds me that enough right things stacked on top of each other will eventually impact the ultimate outcome.

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