Twas’ the Week Before Thanksgiving

It’s hard to believe that it is the week before Thanksgiving Break.  Everyone around me has been working at full capacity for twelve weeks (not to mention the weeks before students actually arrived!).  At my campus, we have already completed three rounds of Professional Learning Community Meetings, one report card, one student recognition ceremony, discussed endless learning standards, created individualized interventions, and analyzed three rounds of common assessments. There has barely been time to look up, much less realize that it is November.

This past week, we completed a flipped staff meeting where I shared a video about stress:

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

I think that in today’s day and age the role of a teacher, especially at a Title I school, there is increased demand. I think that is why it is so important to become mentally strong in managing challenges. The truth is our students are always going to have high needs, and there will never seem like there is enough time. So what can you do?

  • Remember, that it is always about growth, not perfection. We are human, and we can only do so much. We can’t compare ourselves to others because none of us has exactly the same situation. All we can do is try to learn and improve each day. I love the idea of seeing situations as challenges I will overcome eventually, not insurmountable problems. They are just events that I haven’t conquered….YET!  Maintaining power is key in managing stress.
  • When you feel like you are not doing enough “teaching” due to other demands, remember that the time you spend building relationships with your students is the most powerful teaching you can do. Students learn more from teachers they like and respect. When you have that relationship, you are teaching them valuable lessons about life and creating the path for future academic learning. If when we are teaching, we have strong relationships, and we are using our tools to intentionally teach to the rigor of the standards, students will learn what they need to learn.
  • Train your brain to not take things personally. A student’s actions, a parent’s email, a colleague’s response…it is just an event. It doesn’t become positive or negative until you add your interpretation. Jon Gordon says E+P=O. Events are not positive or negative, but when we add our Perception, we determine the Outcome. Practice each day seeing events as just that…an event. The less negative perception you add, the less likely you are to perceive the event as a stressor.
  • Take care of yourself. If you don’t, the time that you spend sick just causes additional stress when you have to miss time with students. Eat well, sleep well, take care of you! It is time well spent.
  • A wise man who had a significant role in shaping my career always used to say Faith, Family, Job. I think if you are always filtering your “to-dos” this way, it helps to keep things in perspective. I do know that for most of us, this “job” is so much more. It is our purpose and mission in life, so it doesn’t really have a stopping or starting time. I think that is okay, as long as you continue to remember that a “purpose” isn’t about the “stuff” and the “tasks” it is about the people. Don’t let the little stuff consume you.  It will be there later.

I know this upcoming week will present some additional challenges.  As the adults see a light at the end of the tunnel that is results in a week of down time from the demands of school, many of our students see a dark tunnel leading to a world of unknown.  A week without certainty of structure, food, and expectations.  As welcomed as the break is to so many of us, it is frightening to many students.  Their fears often bring out some of the most unlovable behavior.  Again, we have to remember why students act as they do and that it often has nothing to do with us.  This time of year is the perfect time to be thankful for all our blessings, but it also requires a great deal of grit, grace, and growth mindset to effectively manage stress, support students who do not welcome breaks and make it through the five days before Thanksgiving Break. And then, before we know it, it will be Christmas…

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