Listen to the Podcast version here: Teachers: Do Your Best and Forget the Rest
It’s the end of winter break for teachers in my district. Breaks give all of us an opportunity to reflect and think about our teaching lives or not think (either way…it’s okay).
What came to my own mind was: Teachers: Do Your Best and Forget the Rest!
When I was in my full-time student teaching internship, I got a bit flustered when I needed to create an entire book (basically) including a unit plan which demonstrated backwards design, lessons, pre-and post assessments, data demonstrating growth for each student in a chart format. During this time, I was to be observed by the college faculty frequently, unknowing when they might pop in. One afternoon, I remember stopping by to speak with my mentor, who retired as an Associate Superintendent from a local county and was now mentoring future educators. I absolutely loved her! As I spoke in a bit of a frantic manner, she put me right at ease in a direct but firm way. “Laura, just do this–create a pre-test/post-test, create the lessons and throw in a couple of quizzes. Finally, track the data.” I exclaimed, “Wow, got it!” It was not that what she said was that different than what I knew I needed to do. She just simplified it and said do this…and you’ll be fine.
Isn’t that what we all need to hear sometimes…”Do this and you’ll be fine.”
I went on to have a very successful internship, graduating at the top of my class.
Simplicity created excellence in me.
My first year of teaching my principal told me, “Just teach them to write.”
Simplicity helped me to create excellence in my students.
He gave me that direction and that mantra stuck with me all year. That was my mission. My solitary focus.
Success. Students grew as writers and love of it by leaps and bounds. I still enjoy looking back at their work.
My point is keep it simple and success always seems to follow. Muddled thinking that is pulled into too many directions can lead to great difficulties in doing your best.
Every year as a teacher I have received high marks as a teacher, exemplary ratings. I do not want that to change. However, I do believe that I need to remember a few things.
- Family first! School teachers and school leaders should embody and exemplify an understanding of boundaries. Communities trust leaders who have strong home lives, and would never want the leadership who serves our communities to put work before family so much that their own families fall apart. Boundaries must be created between work and home to ensure leadership success and trust among the people he or she serves. Strong families are the foundation of our leadership and our students aspire to be us, we must show them that leadership in our home life matters.
- Health Matters! If schools teachers and school leaders give of themselves to the point of physical breakdown, then we are not being good stewards of what has been entrusted to us. If we are tired and worn our students will suffer along with our families. As a mother, I want teachers who are happy, healthy, and whole working with my most precious gifts God ever gave to me (my children). As a teacher, I must remember that as well.
- Keep The Main Thing–The Main Thing! The current teacher evaluation system holds a spectrum of ratings from 1-4, 4 being the highest (exemplary) rating. Many teachers who are great teachers, already exhibit exemplary work, often spending time leading in ways they are passionate about. It also pushes the overachievers to strive for fours in a variety of areas. Although, we all could serve from being teacher leaders–we learn so much from leading–we must also know when we need to step back. Although, Ron Clark desires for us all to be runners, it’s a fallacy that any of us are always running. Anyone who has ever trained to be an actual runner knows this. At any moment you might be a runner, a walker, a jogger, or even a rider (because you ran so hard and fast you got an injury). Just don’t give up! My point is there are seasons for all things, and being a solid Level 3 teacher under the TKES evaluations can be as beneficial as being a Level 4 teacher leader. We all need each other, and our students come first. Focus on being a great teacher first. The rest will come.
- Boundaries Are Good! Many of us lack the ability to draw a line between home life and school life, but we need to do it, because our students are watching. I grew up in a different time, where boundaries were common. Parents and teachers ruled and I followed. I didn’t know all the details of my teachers’ lives and I was okay with that. Social media serves as a great outlet to inform in our areas of expertise, but it serves us best to stop there. Our students do not need to know where we went out to dinner or read our latest rampage on any given topic (politics or school life). Last year, I used this as an example in a teacher social media training: one teacher had a tweet with her students doing a fun and exciting project, the next day happened to be Friday, and she posted about her night on the town: Margarita Time TGIF!!! (No one wants to see that). Boundaries are good, and it’s wise to remember that. Our students and their families need to see and remember the best of us.
So, in the end remember, Do YOUR best, and FORGET the rest! Keep it simple. Remember that your health and family matter, keep the main thing the main thing (Teacher 1st), and boundaries are a good thing.
Wishing everyone a impactful week! Is there anything you would add? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!