Classroom teaching is, in a word, overwhelming. There’s just nothing else like it out there. You are constantly inundated with individual and class-wide needs, administrative demands, parent concerns, and daily to-do lists that grow and grow. The plans you so carefully craft are more often than not adjusted, amended, or even tossed aside to make room for other things that pop up unexpectedly. So many obstacles stand in the way of what you really want to do, which is simply to teach your students. So jump in with us as we discuss how to switch things up: new year, new mindset!
Research conducted in the 1980s-1990s shows that teachers make some 1500 decisions in a single day. Given that this number was published prior to the widespread implementation of technology and before virtual learning was a thing, that number is likely a good bit higher these days. No wonder you’re exhausted!
This is, however, the nature of the job. Working with a large number of individuals on a daily basis means your classroom dynamic will always be, well, dynamic. You have 20-40ish humans in your room at any given time, each with their own individual needs and personalities. There’s not much you can do about that. (And hey, would you really want to? You don’t want robots staring blankly back at you all day!)
You can’t change your circumstances, but you can control how you walk through them. And the new year, most certainly, is the perfect time to ponder a mindset shift.
If you’re like most people, you’re scrambling for a New Year’s resolution, just for it to escape your mind in a few weeks. Here are some solid examples of new, easy-to-implement fresh takes for the new year:
This may go against the deeply-grooved Type-A characteristics in your very soul, but teaching can become so much more fun when you accept this mantra. Embracing unexpected questions or the 180 directional changes in class discussions can bring more depth into your classroom, and is the perfect step to take during the new year, new mindset philosophy.
Students appreciate it when teachers show humility by owning up to their mistakes. Or when they are honest about not knowing the answer to a question. They don’t need to see perfection; they need to be led to learn from someone who doesn’t claim to know everything. They need to see that their teachers still desire to learn from the world, from experiences, and from others. If we want our students to have pliable minds and hearts, we need to, above all, demonstrate that ourselves.
Pick your battles.
If you choose to die on every hill, you will exhaust yourself. Believe me, as a teacher, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Forgotten homework, frequent restroom visits, falling asleep in class, etc. Decide what is the most important to you, and make that a priority in your classroom. Let some of the other stuff go.
Give students some grace.
I know I sure appreciate it when others give me a pass, and your students will, too. This could potentially have a larger impact than any content you ever teach them. Behavior correction is absolutely necessary. But give them a fresh start the next day. Don’t remind them of their past mistakes. They will love you for it.
Give yourself some grace.
You will have slip-ups, mishaps, and flat-out mistakes in your classroom. It may be in the way you handle a disciplinary situation. Or a question you didn’t like. Or an irate parent. Or an administrative task handed to you when you just couldn’t take any more. Take a breath, accept what you’ve done, make amends as necessary, and move forward.
Adopt one, or adapt some; our hope is that you feel inspired to enter 2023 with an open mind, refreshed and ready for whatever the new year, new mindset, and new beginning brings!
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