What makes extraordinary teachers? The only person who can define extraordinary teaching is you – the teacher. More times than not, teachers are being told what to teach, how to think, what to tell their students, and we are not being asked what we think. We are told when we are to administer state tests, when our administration will come to watch us teach, when we have to have school dictated professional development. We are told what to teach, and in many states, we have been handed modules and told just to “work it out.” If I wanted to produce autobots, and I wanted to be in a thoughtless profession, I would not have become a teacher.
I chose teaching because it’s the one profession that educates HUMANS. Human beings, who are quirky, creative, amazing, different and unpredictable. I need to access all parts of my brain on a daily basis in order to get through the day, and I LOVE it. I have found, in my years of teaching, that the best way to discover your passion, is to be authentic with yourself. I became a teacher to make a difference, and I bet you did too. However, it’s hard to remember how to be amazing when you are bogged down with the core.
So here are four things to remember:
1) Teach who you are!
You are in control in your classroom. Maybe you were handed a curriculum, but it’s still YOU delivering the content. Teach who YOU are. If you love art, find a way to incorporate more art into your teaching. If you love music, find ways to sing each day. If you love to super organized, teach your students systems to be organized. You have the power to be the authentic you everyday! No one can take that away from you. Plus, it will feel better for you to be YOU, and your student’s will appreciate it.
2) Lighten up – it’s not as bad as it seems.
I have noticed that things can get pretty intense, pretty quickly in schools. Everyone seems to be on the edge of exploding at any minute. I’m not sure if it’s in the classroom design or what, but I have noticed a lot of teachers and students taking themselves way too seriously (and people in life too, especially in line at the grocery store). I find when you are super stressed out, it works better to try to be silly or lighten up, then to allow the frustration to seep in. I’m not talking about going crazy and having everything fall apart. I’m talking, say something unusual during a lesson to see if they are paying attention. Find things that make you smile and laugh and put reminders of them on your desk. Laughter can cure a lot of issues! Try it out!
3) Be proactive, not reactive.
I know you are super stressed out and have a million things to do. What is something you can do right now? What if you had a plan for the week that wasn’t just lesson planning? Do something for yourself and be proactive in your life. Set goals for yourself, and be intentional. Decide what you want for the week, or the day, and then make that happen. Try not to just sit back and allow things to unfold.
Take charge of your day, your week – your life! What do you want? Why do you want it? How will you make it happen?
4) Do your best everyday.
So you tried to be you. You laughed at your joke you posted on your desk and you planned your week. Yet the regional superintendent was visiting your school just as Johnny decided to desconstruct a pen in his desk and it got all over himself, his classwork and a little bit on you when he tried to throw it out after you yelled at him. Things happen. That is why I love teaching so much because you really don’t know what will happen each day. That is the beauty about being human. We are unpredictable and amazing, and we make mistakes. You are doing an amazing job! Just continue to do your best each day. That’s all that matters.
Let’s continue the convo!
What piece speaks to you? What helps you be extraordinary in your classroom or in your life?