This time of year can cause stress and anxiety for teachers as they anticipate changes that will be coming in the next year. But, change isn't always a bad thing, especially if we learn to cope with it. There are various things that can be done to adjust to change and to make it an easier transition. Take these ideas into consideration:
- Be flexible. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. At these moments, recognize opportunities in new situations and seek for a learning opportunity. What can you learn from this change?
- Stay positive and be proactive. Get rid of the "what if" feelings and think positively. Keeping a journal of positive things each day can help to keep those thoughts focused. Don't forget to keep your sights on the most important part of your job: your students. Keep them in mind as you plan.
- Take care of yourself. Don't forget to keep balanced and take a minute for you. Whether that be eating healthy, exercising, taking a nap, or just reading a book, take time to rejuvenate and keep your body healthy. By taking care of yourself mentally and physically, you can face challenges as you cope with changes.
- Develop positive relationships. Are there teachers on your team feeling the same way? In your school? Work together to be supportive to one another. Plan and PLC together. Collaboration can help make change transition smoother.
- Reflect on positive things you've done before. You've made changes before. Reflect on how you overcame those and focus on those strengths you have to get through.
Sometimes, change can really hurt our mental well being. If at any point it gets to where you may need more help, don't be afraid to ask for it. Our district has help through Blomquist Hale Consulting where you can get free help 24 hours a day. Their number is 1-800-926-9619.
Change is real. We face it every year. New students, new curriculum, new bosses, new classrooms...change happens in education. Keep in mind though, change helps us get better, and through change, we can continue to grow as educators.
What other things do you do to cope with change?
Although the best way to adapt a lesson for your students who are less proficient at mastering material quickly is to respond to them as individuals, sometimes you may find that several students are experiencing difficulties. In the following list, you will find some ways to adapt lessons so that all of your students can be successful.
- Vary the learning modalities in a lesson that will make it easier for all students to learn and use their preferred learning styles.
- Provide more examples, models, and demonstrations.
- Build on students’ prior knowledge.
- Build students’ self-confidence by encouraging their efforts as well as their achievements.
- Allow students to work with peers in mixed-ability groups.
- Supply students with support materials such as word banks, graphic organizers, technology practice, and outlines.
- Give more time to complete an assignment.
Adapted from The First-Year Teacher’s Checklist: A Quick Reference for Classroom Success by Julia G. Thompson
We have very likely heard the quote concerning an ounce of prevention. However, when it comes to effectively managing the classroom, many of us forget and attempt in a futile gesture to instead focus on cures. We attempt to stamp out the behaviors instead of finding preventative solutions. According to Bill Gates "treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable." Luckily, we know what works to prevent a majority of behavioral mishaps. Recently, the USOE published the http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Behavior/ManualPrint.aspx to help educators understand and implement best practices concerning student behavioral management. On the topic of prevention, they state that "All students benefit academically and socially when their classroom and school environments are positive, preventive, and responsive" (LRBI, 27). So, it is not just a way to relieve teacher stress (though it might do that too). Taking positive actions to control behavior is an essential component of an optimized learning environment. The first pillar in prevention is establishing rules. It would be difficult to overstate the importance that establishing and maintaining rules has in the classroom. Unfortunately, not all rules fall in the effective category. In fact, classroom rules sometimes cause problems they are intended to prevent. In order to ensure that classroom rules bring about the desired consequence of preventing behavioral problems, a few recommendations should be satisfied (LRBI, 28).
- Prioritize expectations by limiting the number to three to five classroom-wide rules.
- State expected behaviors positively.
- Use developmentally appropriate language in the wording (vocabulary appropriate to student age, functional level, and skill level).
- State explicitly what the behavior looks and sounds like.
- Make rules observable and measurable (able to be counted or quantified for monitoring).
- Post the rules publicly for all to see.
After rules are written, it becomes necessary to set them in motion and keep them in motion throughout the remainder of the school year. For further help with how to do this, please refer to the http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Behavior/ManualPrint.aspx. Additionally, our district offers a course called Effective Teacher Training: How To Get Your Students to Do What You Want them To Do. Taking the course will help to do just as the name suggests. More information and registration for the course is found in JPLS.