Teacher, Educate Thyself

Teacher, Educate Thyself

During times that I feel overwhelmed, I shut down. This self-protection mechanism doesn’t work well for me, because when I feel overwhelmed and go into hiding, not much gets completed. This leads to more things to do. I totally understand this about myself.

I do it when going to pay bills (the money is THERE, but I procrastinate it until I’m feeling anxious about my finances). Totally curable.

I do it with with school work. I’ll find a million other things to do (plan lessons into 2025 if I have to) to avoid grading papers. And then, I fall further behind, sending myself into a tizzy of anxiety. A routine would help with this, but I’m constantly telling myself that it will get done (Somehow? Magically? I don’t know.) and find other classroom prep work that is much more fun than grading.

During this holiday break I’ve attempted to “let it go”. I have spent a LOT of time relaxing (and watching Hallmark Christmas movies), but the need to “fix things” behind the scenes in my classroom has been a nagging thought: peeking in and out of the windows of my subconscious.

This morning, in my need to try to pull things together, I cleaned out my “crap room”. This 4th bedroom which is downstairs in my house, was designated for my craft room when the kids and I moved in about 15 years ago. It really is best as an office or such – double door entry from the foyer – but since it is right off of the entry to the house, the pressure to keep it tidy is moderately high; not so much if I realize that I *can* close the doors and hope that no one opens them. 🙂  The housekeepers know “no se preocupes” when the doors are closed.

As a teen I had a sign on my bedroom door that resembled this one:

My mom would walk by my room, read the sign, grumble, and just close the door. Now, the door stays closed of my craft room. That experimental/innovative streak has always been a big part of who I am, but I’m finding myself sticking my head into the sand of my creative mess far too often – which is definitely affecting my efficiency and follow-through.

I’m noticing that my students also seem to be struggling with time management and getting tasks completed in an appropriate time frame. I’m not a huge stickler for due dates, but that in itself seems to be contributing to my students procrastinating.

So, in as much as I enjoy offering and encouraging student options and having a stake in their work flow and assessments, perhaps this group of students isn’t quite ready to manage this without more structure. Like me, when I have so many tasks to complete, I think it’s stagnating for them not knowing how to prioritize. We are going to jump on the Google Keep train in a few days and I’m hoping that will help them.

I spent time yesterday mixing and matching others’ (thanks, Sarah, Karly, and Sean) HyperDocs to create a lesson to help my students choose “One Word” to kick off some goal setting for 2018. In the process, I chose my word: flourish.

My focus is on beautiful new personal growth, but in the midst of choosing, I also took into consideration my father’s gardening skills – a trait that I definitely did NOT inherit! I remember that he always started the process of beautifying his garden by cutting back on areas that were no longer pretty or contributing to new growth.  

I have decided to back off and “prune” my work so that I can better flourish. As much as I love EdTech and all of the exciting options that companies have provided for us, by putting ALL of those choices in front of my students, I think I’m creating paralysis for them. One of Lisa Thumann’s keynotes encourages us to find that #OneNewThing, but I’ve become way too excited about All.Of.The.Things. Under the guise of “keeping it fun,” I have overwhelmed my students AND myself! I’ve spread myself too thin and the quality of my work – and thinking – has suffered.

So, here’s to careful consideration of what I personally take up in the coming year as well as what I ask of my students. I *KNOW* that more is not always better. And when it comes to being productive, more choices can stop many students in their tracks. My students are only 11 and need time to develop the skills necessary to make choices that will benefit their educational journeys. Student choice and voice has always been and will continue to be a cornerstone of my classroom and my philosophy. It’s just time to cut back, clear a path, and create fresh, beautifully shaped, flourishing patches of learning.


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