Monday, January 18, 2016

disillusioned, 2016

Every year around this time, I start to feel a little down. The lights around town come down, I’ve overdosed on chocolate, and it’s just too cold. While I might have recharged a bit over break, goals I wanted to reach with students still seem to loom too large, and I’m not sure I’m making a difference.

While this time can be really frustrating, it is also comforting to know that it is normal and that it ends. It is very common for teachers to experience this phase. For some, it begins midway through the fall after the excitement of the beginning of the year wears off. For others, it happens in mid-winter, when the dark and cold make it harder to feel optimistic. While not all teacher experience it, most do at some point, especially in the early years of teaching.

What can you do? I’ve offered some ideas to help you through this time here and here. Other ideas are outlined in this article from Education Week include avoiding highs and lows, letting go of perfectionism, expecting obstacles, and seeking support. The article is worth a read for some helpful hints in understanding these suggestions and making them work for you.

Whatever you do, just know that others have been there, and that you can work through it. Find your support, and lean on them.

What do you do to help you get through disillusionment?

Friday, January 1, 2016

how to begin again after break

Hello dear readers! Happy 2016! I hope you've all been enjoying a lovely winter break. Once New Year's Day hits, signaling the rapid approaching end of break, thoughts begin to turn to lesson planning, assessments, relationships with students, and goals for the remaining months of the year. Returning to school after break can be a challenge. The time with family and friends is often rejuvenating, but all the holiday bustle can be tiring too. While the transition back to work is difficult for teachers, it can be equally difficult or even more so for students.

I recently read an interesting article with some great ideas for the first day back after break. In the article, the author, a neuroscientist, argues for planning the first day back around what the brain needs. For example, students are naturally curious about what their classmates have been up to over break. To ignore this and launch right into a lesson will likely set up the class for management issues. Give students a chance to talk and share with one another before beginning any lessons planned. Other suggestions include: active lessons, changing the room arrangement, and trying a new instructional activity. Find a great funny book or poem to read to get students engaged. Start the new year with an exciting new experiment.

Easing back into the (almost) second half of the year might take some time and planning. But do spend some time planning how you will help your students get back into it. They will appreciate the planning (and so will you)!