I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I know that New Year’s is NOT the middle of the school year. In fact, it’s a little weird, because as the new year begins, even though you make resolutions, it’s not always the time you think about what you can do differently in your classrooms. However, I offer a few words that might help you as you make it through the long winter, and beyond…
Collaborate- Seriously – no more chip on your shoulders. You don’t need to do everything alone. Do your best to work with someone in your building on something cool. Some possibilities: science with math, English with social studies….one year, there was collaboration between science and English when science read The Hot Zone. Worked out nicely. I also hear that media center specialists really like to collaborate with teachers. Start out small – the ideas will only get bigger and brighter from there. Can anyone say “shared workload”?
Celebrate – even the littlest successes can be celebrations in the middle of doldrums, and recovering-from-holiday-break-sleep-schedule-students will be thankful for small bursts of energy that give them a break. I used to have my students trained so that when I said, “can I get a HEY HEY?” they “raised the roof” with their hands on cue. You can also do standing ovations, “Whoop!” breaks, whatever suits your fancy. It heightens interest and invites participation (don’t we all wish all of our curriculum was like that?). Even Ellen DeGeneres dances every day.
Cool Off - sometimes, kids are just being kids, and sometimes there’s a reason they are being punks. That underdeveloped prefrontal cortex thing makes them especially vulnerable to poor judgement and disorganization. But here’s the deal- you are smarter than them: socially and intellectually. And that teacher who ticked you off in the duplicating center this morning? Not worth it. Take the high road, and stay on the high road. Your energy is valuable, and the students who are NOT ticking you off deserve your attention more.
Compassion- There’s ALWAYS reason for treating all students with compassion – the kids you like, and the kids you don’t. Even teachers who are tough to deal with need a bit of TLC now and then – even a small note in their box that reminds them that they are valued. A teacher I really admire used to tell her students, “sometimes, I will be an A teacher, and sometimes I will be a C teacher, just like you’ll sometimes be A students or C students. That just makes us all human.” We are in the business, at least in part, of teaching people how to be human, are we not?
We are. Indeed. Happy New Year.