When the clock strikes midnight on the new year, we always resolve to better ourselves. Whether it be losing weight, quitting smoking, reading more, or joining a gym — we always want to do something to better ourselves.
As teachers we can resolve to do all these things, but we should also try to resolve to do things to improve our quality of life as an educator, and to improve our overall performance.
So here are four essential resolutions for teachers.
A lot of teachers immediately begin their day with worry, thinking about what is going to happen in the next few hours while they are on the job. Whether it be problems with a student, or an observation, or even mountains of paperwork, that lingering sense of dread is something that takes over quickly if it is strong enough.
It is important to remember that those feelings can do a lot of damage, and take over the mindset so thoroughly that nothing positive can get done. Every day must be a clean slate. That’s a tough concept to execute, since there may be a continuation of issues from day to day, but teachers who wake up thinking positively will find the day way easier to tackle, and less exhausted from stress or negativity.
Go With the Flow
The classroom environment is not one that is rigid in structure. Stuff happens all the time (fire drills anyone?) to throw off your plans. While there are some teachers out there that can easily transition from one thing to another, a good number of new teachers are finding it challenging to be flexible. Don’t sweat the small stuff. For 2018, the “trip ups” of the job should be treated as just the cogs in the machine: make them work for you. Resist getting caught in the gears!
This is a factor that depends mostly on character. Teachers are so bogged down with stuff outside of the typical classroom day that it doesn’t allow them to really “cut loose.” Not advising that you do anything super crazy, but the joy of being an educator is that you work with students who are younger than you, who find joy in humor and silliness.
Being a good teacher is knowing when to lay down the law; being a great teacher is knowing how to be a disciplinarian and an entertainer both. The front of the classroom is a stage for performance, and no student is going to be giving you a standing ovation if you’re a dry actor. It’s important to blur the line between being a teacher and being a friend, so don’t go too crazy. Just remember to keep it light when the situation best calls for it.
Don’t Let Anyone Get the Best of You
This is a blanket rule to use for any group of individuals that you have to deal with on a consistent basis. Whether it be students, parents, or administration, it doesn’t matter. It is important to keep a clear head when you’re “in demand.” It can be frustrating a lot of the time, but you chose this career for a reason, and you are doing great things for the generation of future students. It is important to remember the positives of the job, and not break down when people question your motives, or how you teach. It’s a challenge, no doubt about it. It’s also easier said than done. Just believe in what you are doing, and know that you are the best teacher you can be.
Logan J. Fowler is a special education teacher in Princeton, NJ.