Thursday, September 03, 2015

Teacherscribe's Teaching Tip #3 (Inservice Week)

Teacherscribe Teaching Tips inservice day #3

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    3.  Do something now.

Anything now is better than something later.

So if the first step, forget about the ultimate outcome, set the context for this and the second step, do the next right thing, focused just on identifying the next right steps, this third and final step is all about the key factor in combatting overwhelm: taking action now.

When I heard this step, I immediately thought of all those professional development sessions I’ve been through.  How many times have I heard a great idea or teaching tip or best practice that I could use to improve my craft, yet I haven’t done it yet?  Too many to count.

I just filed it away and never took any action on it.  And my teaching pretty much stayed the same.  So what was the point of the professional development? 

Last spring I attended NCTE. 

I made a vow to put in immediate practice at least one thing from each section.  And I did.  I had one class conduct a Socratic seminar.  I also sent an email to a colleague about how we could set up editing teams with our classes.  I also worked Socrative into a lesson plan the following week. 

That last example actually illustrates how I struggled with overwhelm perfectly.  

I was blown away by Socrative and wondered how I had never heard of this before.

Actually, I had heard of it as one of my colleagues presented a short session on it, but because I was overwhelmed a bit by all of the other apps or websites presented that day, it didn’t register with me!  

The reason it didn’t was that I was also presenting on a tech app (storify), so I was focused on that ultimate outcome.  I was not open as I should have been to developing a bias toward action (which would have had me taking more diligent notes about each app or website presented) and then doing something now, which would have had me start putting some of what I learned into action immediately.

So as a quick recap, when you (or your students) feel overwhelmed, remember these three steps -

1    1.  Don’t focus on the ultimate outcome.
2    2.  Focus on the next right action.
3    3.  Do something now.

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