Free Tool for Educators: Last Year's Experience Forms This Year's Plan
Welcome to the new school year!! By now, the smell has faded from your new school year calendar, you have already lost, lent, or given away many of your writing utensils, and the day-to-day challenges have begun to set in. At the same time, your routines are established, your students know what to do, and you are likely through your review period and into teaching new material. As we look at the year ahead from a social emotional perspective, we want to take the time to remind you how important it is for you to come from a healthy place in order to teach children those skills needed to keep them healthy – physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. That’s why we decided to create a reflection and planning tool for you to use at this stage in the year, one month in, that encourages you to use last years’ experience to inform this year’s plan.
So as you face this 9 month journey with your students, we are going to ask you to go back to last year and do a little reflection.
When you think about last year as a ten month adventure that was filled with highs and lows, peaks and valleys, accomplishments and lesser accomplishments, what months did you find yourself enjoying your day-to-day work? What months did you find that you were merely treading water, rather than pushing yourself to swim even greater distances? What months did you rediscover your passion for children and teaching? What months did you count down the days until the next break or vacation? As human beings doing a job that is simultaneously excrutiatingly hard and incredibly rewarding, it is totally normal to feel all of those ups and downs. It is also important to reflect on them.
As we teach students the ability to reflect, evaluate and set goals for themselves, it is important that we model that process for ourselves. This month we are including a school year timeline for you to use as a tool in your own planning. Take a few moments to think about last year and rate those months that you feel you had a great deal of personal satisfaction. Why were those months so successful? Did you build in extra time for yourself or maybe divide the workload at home or at school in such a way that the month felt easy to navigate? What months did you find yourself dreading? Were there months that the overwhelming stress of your home life may have impacted the way that you navigated your work life? Do break times or holidays impact your time with children in a positive, or in a negative, way?
Now that you have spent a little time reflecting on those months that were joy-filled, and those months that were maybe more challenging than you would like them to be, what is your plan? What are concrete things that you can do now to make those stressful months less challenging this year? It is important to go through this process when you are calm and not in the middle of those stressful situations. When your brain is in a flared, or a "hot" state, you are unable to reason or tap into the neocortex to come up with a rational answer or response beacuse your limbic system is firing on all cylinders. In the same way, when we are feeling overloaded due to work and home stressors, we cannot come up with a rational and satisfying plan in those moments. We must try to look at those moments before they happen and create a set of action steps that will help us swim through the turbulent waters in a way that preserves our sanity and our sense of personal satisfaction. Maybe you could look at adding time with friends or removing time chauffeuring children from your personal life during certain months of the year. Maybe you could suggest to your administrators meetings during the month of December are less productive than ones held in other months. Maybe you divide the workload in one month among your team members so that each of you only has to prepare one week and share it for all to use.
We hope that you are able to use our school year tool to evaluate last year, and plan for to make this year more successful. As we know, history often repeats itself, unless you take the time to learn from the experience and plan for a better outcome. As you prepare and travel through this school year, we hope that you are able to rate every month in 2018-2019 a “10”, or at least darn close!!