Monday, September 24, 2012

The New Teacher on the Block: An Inventory

Hello to all my newest teacher friends out there in this brave new world! You, like me, are probably scrambling right now to get to know your students really, really well. This year, there are all kinds of measures in place to 'help' us gain focus and clarity in all we do. Not feeling focused and clear? Are your nerves a little raw? Do you feel like you're climbing a mountain that has no top?

Welcome to the world of education! It's okay, regardless of new programs, new curricula, the now famous CCSS (Common Core State Standards) and the new teacher evaluation measures (rubric, as always included), you're guaranteed to make it to June! And really? That is the objective here, let's be honest. Okay, just kidding, I know. You're probably a little frazzled and scared. If you weren't, you would not be normal.

But the most important insiders' secret...take it a teaspoonful at a time. These students have no clue, nor should they, what you're going through! Oh...and you have behavior and parents and grading to deal with? No problem, it all gets done. But it's really important that you do what you can, and leave the rest to the next day.

Take it from me, if you don't grab time to catch your breath, to laugh, to leap, to look outside the classroom doors? You'll be burnt out by January. So, right now...RIGHT NOW--instead of considering a new career choice? Sit down, and write down the top five things you hate most about teaching. Do this! It's important that you inventory your dislikes right away! (As soon as you admit them to yourself, you'll start finding a way to get them off the list.) Being honest is a good thing, it helps you see what you might actually need help with, but maybe wouldn't really want to admit. Next, write down the ten things you kind of like.

For dessert, write down all the things that you couldn't do without...that little upside down grin from the skinny little kid with the crooked bangs, the grapes you were offered from those germy fingers at snack time, the student whose hand is raised even when you haven't asked a question, the little things they know about you already that you thought nobody knew! (They're fierce teacher watchers...can't study for a test, but boy, if they were given a test on you, they'd pass with flying colors, for sure!)

Now, honestly, don't you feel better? I know you do! Teaching has many challenges and even for a veteran those hurdles are becoming much more than a leap! But taking an inventory helps us all to keep a perspective, and it helps you be focused in clear in what it is you hope to achieve. Keeping a journal will also reap some huge rewards! This week, I'll return to the inventory concept again. Inventories, as they say, are not always taken in red ink, there's a whole lot of good happening right in front of your eyes!

What little moment did you absolutely love today?