by, Elijah Bonde, M.A., Leadership Studies
Principal at Nativity Prep Academy
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Most schools have been in session for a month or so. This is when the reality of the school year starts to set in and often the struggles of the day-to-day overwhelm the positivity that guided the first few weeks of school. We are all educators because we love the profession and the first days of school bring the most excitement for the year. We are idealistic with our goals and dreams for the year. Unfortunately all too often, we get run down, sometimes even by the end of the first week of school. I hope to share a few ideas here that might help to keep the positivity and excitement from the first few weeks moving throughout the school year.
Focus on the Good
First and most importantly, educators need to be reminded that they are amazing, hardworking, compassionate individuals that are dedicated to service. I was reminded of this over the weekend by a friend. We educators tend to focus on the one or two things we would like to do better. We end up focusing on the one or two students that failed the test rather than the 20-plus that passed. We need to shift our mindset to look at the positive impact we are making. We can use the failures as data to improve, but not as measures of the impact we make just by being educators. We are changing lives for the better, and it is important that we are reminded of this.
Balance the Big Picture with the Details
I am a strong believer that it is important to address the big picture of our school in addition to addressing the details. Since teachers have to be on the front lines, they tend to want practical techniques and things that will address the immediate needs of the class. While it is very important to focus on these pieces and to make sure everyone understands the details, it is also important to create a big picture for the school and to work on those issues. If we can see how our day-to-day work fits into a larger vision and purpose, we can pull from our reserve tanks to get the job done. With a larger understanding of our work, we know how our piece fits with others and we are more willing to work with others. The details are essential, but we need time to see the big picture.
Establish and Revisit Goals
Another way to keep the positivity going throughout the year is to make it easy for everyone and the school to see the progress they are making. It is helpful to have a few clearly articulated goals for the year. These goals should be both school goals and personal goals. Similar to earlier, we need to see how our personal goals align to the direction of the school. When you see how your day-to-day work aligns with the larger school goals, it makes it easier to dig deeper into your work. Once we have our goals set, we need to make it easy to see the successes we have in the small steps building up to your larger goals. Creating a scoreboard and tracking successes shows off the little victories that remind everyone that the hard work they are putting in is making a difference.
As the year continues, there will be interpersonal interactions and disagreements with school decisions. It is an inevitable part of working with a team. If we give space for teachers to discuss their excitement, nervousness, and other reactions throughout the school year, then a deeper understanding between each person is formed. We can learn more about each other and what we are bringing to work with us. If I know more about the nervousness that a colleague has, I can be more compassionate with an annoying interaction that I had with them. The more we can learn about each other, the stronger our team can be.
Overall, we all enjoy the excitement and positive energy that starts our school year. It is a big reason that we come back each year to teach again. We get a new group of students and get to try and create the best environment to help them learn and grow. Hopefully, this year that positive energy can continue throughout the year.