Thursday, December 18, 2014


Enjoy this winter break, dear readers. It is most certain to be earned and is likely happening not a moment too soon. As a teacher I chatted with in the hallway said a few weeks ago, the weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break fly by, until the last two, when time stands absolutely still.

Take this time to recharge in your most favorite winter ways. Drink hot chocolate, read a book for pleasure, go ice skating, take a walk in the snow or build a snowman, listen to holiday music. Rest up and recharge.

See you in the new year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

disillusioned, the 2014 edition

There comes a point in almost every teacher's academic year where they begin to feel disillusioned. This is particularly true for novice teachers. It usually happens after the excitement of the beginning of the year wears off. Disillusionment is characterized by the stress that settles in after the beginning of the year flurry. You have likely been evaluated by your principal, made it through the first set of parent-teacher conferences, and might be struggling with aspects of your teaching that aren't going as you'd envisioned. Things seem different than you imagined them.

 It's important to acknowledge the way you feel, first and foremost. This doesn't mean that you don't enjoy teaching. It is a very common phase of teaching. Check out the New Teacher Center phases of new teachers for more info. Or, check out previous blog posts about this topic here, here, here, here, and here.

There are a lot of things you can do if and when you begin to feel this way. First, take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself makes you a better teacher. Get sleep, enjoy a night away from the gradebook with your spouse or children or friends or doggie. Exercise. Try a new healthy recipe. Watch videos of cats or the beaches in Bali. Spend some time every day thinking about what you are thankful for. Whatever it is that fills your soul, find a way to make it happen.

Then, focus on what might be contributing to your disillusionment. Next time you feel frustrated, write down things that are causing your frustration. From your list, think about what is in your control and is ongoing. What is one thing you can do to make a change in this factor? Think about ways to let go of those things that are not in your control.

The upcoming winter break can serve as a chance to reset - to gain some perspective, to refocus on the big goals for the academic year, to recharge with family and friends and fun.

What is your plan to get through the disillusionment? If you have experienced this before, what has helped you in the past?

Reference: Mendler, A. N. (2012). When teaching gets tough: Smart ways to reclaim your game. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Monday, December 1, 2014

teaching about Ferguson

Though the grand jury decision was announced a week ago, students still have questions and are working through their responses to Ferguson. Teachers and classrooms are often the safe spaces where conversations about controversial topics can happen. So, if your students want to talk about Ferguson, here are some resources to help you.
How have your students responded to the news in Ferguson? How have you facilitated discussions with your students about this, or other controversial topics?