August is here! Which means for educators that either late this month or after labor day school starts again. As I started my new job at Hope Partnership for Education today I did a lot of reflection on how I can mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the work I will be doing this fall. The result was these 3 methods to get ready for the upcoming school year.
1. Set goals
Year after year of working with students and doing the same thing can become pretty tedious I must admit. As we set into our yearly routines with work we sometimes become disillusioned with why we are even doing this work in the first place. One way to keep yourself mentally sharp is to set goals. Think about what you want to accomplish with your students this year. What can you do differently this year that will make a bigger impact? I told my boss today that one of my biggest fears is to become stagnant, and one way we can become stagnant is if we aren’t revamping our purpose for why we do what we do. Set huge goals, and what I mean by this is don’t be held down by trying to be “realistic”. Let your mind wander and explore what you can accomplish. People may try to tell you that your inspirations are too big, but a wise friend of mine told me, normal people don’t change the world.
2. Self care
When I worked for City Year one of the main things I heard constantly was to take care of yourself. Initially I ignored it because I thought my form of “self care” was simply taking a nap or eating. No, self care consists of actually engaging in activities that lifts your spirit up. The challenge there is trying to discover what activities evoke that emotion from you. A career in urban education can be pretty stressful sometimes, and if we don’t find ways to pick ourselves up through hobbies that we love we end up burning out. When we burn out not only does a student lose out on a great teacher/mentor, but that person’s window to change a life gets smaller and smaller. Find a way to take care of yourself whether its through playing a favorite sport or taking a walk twice a week, and commit to it. Although sometimes when we come home from a long day our first instinct is to come home and ruminate, it will do more harm than good.
3. Set high expectations
A year with your students can either start off really well or the complete opposite depending on how you set the tone. The way that we can really begin the year with a strong momentum is to set high expectations for our students. There are a few simple ways to do this which takes little to no effort if you are passionate and intentional about your students. In the classroom communicate your belief for your students. Actively and consistently tell them that you believe in them and that you are confident that they will succeed. Not only should you tell them, but show them as well. One of the many complaints a student has about school is that they feel that they are not treated with the respect that teachers expect from them. Students will be motivated to work when they are respected as young adults. The way to do that is by giving them activities in class that challenge them. Physically and mentally engage them in lessons that push them to get outside of their comfort zone. Although they may initially turn away from “corny” activities, they will recognize that you are putting thought and effort into bringing out the best in them, thus inspiring them to work hard.
What are some ways you prepare yourself for the new year? How can you challenge yourself to get ready to do amazing work? Stay inspired and keep working.