I know one should never start a post, conversation, or speech with a disclaimer, but… here is mine. This blog post is about lists, goals, and writing. A “what would you tell your younger self” type of list. It’s been done- I get it. But they’re my favorite. There will also be clichés, so consider yourself warned.
I always felt like my new year started in August instead of January 1st. As a teacher for the last decade, the beginning of a school year signaled new goals, fresh starts, and an alarm clock. This year is different. I’m switching gears, making changes, and the fresh start is more of a to be continued. As I was reflecting on all these new changes, I cleaned out some old files, and came across an assignment I did for a fellow teacher. He needed a list of goals or advice from a current teacher to a new teacher for one of his graduate classes. A “what I wish I knew then” list. I remember not being too excited to make time sit and write something up, but reading through them years later makes me glad I obliged.
Here’s the thing, I know the list will probably mean more to me than you. Especially at a time where I need my own voice to call from the past and nudge me and say “hey you, remember how you learned these gems?” The funny thing is they are equally relatable to life in general, not just school or teaching, but as a lot of you are getting ready to send kids off to school, or just continuing through the days, here’s hoping some of these thoughts may give you a little umph, insight, or wherewithal for the coming months. Oh and maybe little reminders of how to find joy and peace. That would be good too.
Without further ado, “what I would tell my younger self”:
1) Breathe. In and out. Have a morning ritual that is calm and peaceful – you’ll need it to get in a right frame of mind. Attitude is everything.
2) Having said that however, you will have hard days that suck. This is normal.
3) Tell friends and family stories about hard times. They will turn humorous. People are fascinated by jr. high and high school [or work/life] stories. Keep a little journal of funny things you hear. This will lighten you up.
4) Remember to show more and tell (talk) less. Students [and people] learn by doing, not just by listening and taking notes. Actions speak louder than words. Get off your high horse.
5) Students and people will never change by shame. Make a conscious effort to never discipline with shame.
6) You may never know how one thing you said influenced a quiet student (for better or worse). Think of yourself when you were in jr. high or high school. Enough said.
7) Choose people over tasks.
8) Remember that people will forget what you said, but remember how you made them feel. (Thank you Maya Angelou)
9) You will feel like a fraud sometimes – teaching requires a whole new type of ego and identity. Don’t worry it is still you.
10) Pray for wisdom and perspective.
11) Make genuine one-on-one contact with at least one student [or person] per day.
12) Talk to other teachers (people) that are bucket fillers not soul suckers for ideas and inspirations.
13) Try to lighten up and have some fun.
The power of words – to yourself and others is always stunning later on. I love the advice and writings of those who have been there, done that. What would you write to your younger self? No really, I want to know.