Here we are nearing the conclusion of another school year. Even as a veteran teacher this year has been exhausting, and like any year it has been a year of growth. Yes, saying I’ve grown is the positive spin of saying there have been challenges, however, what I realize more than ever is the need to focus on the outcomes I want to see rather than those I don’t. I have framed this in my mind to say, “What I water grows,” which has helped me in times of heightened stress to reframe where I spend my energy.
For example, a child comes to school having had an insufficient night’s sleep. This means the student is tired, they lack concentration and are subject to mood swings. I can choose to focus on their inattention and poor interactions with me and their peers, or I can acknowledge their stress, I can help them get organized to make some progress, and I can give them space to sort things out on their own. When I ask myself, “What are you watering right now?” It helps me think about whether I am centering on the behaviors that I want to see rather than the ones I don’t.
Here’s the secret sauce to achieving success – it won’t happen all at once. There have been days when I saw little to no growth in certain students, but I continued to focus on the behaviors I wanted to see. “You need to wear your sports shoes instead of your Crocs,” I’d tell them, and when they wear their shoes the next class, I’d tell them I notice and a thumbs up since this is the desired outcome. It might take multiple reminders, and even a communication home to parents sometimes, but the message continued to be the same, ultimately leading to success.
Students, like plants, thrive with love and nurturing. I still have to remind myself of this when I give the wrong sort of attention to a student or group. Am I spending my time ‘watering’ the empty patch of dirt, the behavior I am trying to stop or avoid, or am I watering the plants, which is what I want to thrive. Eventually, after focusing on what I want to grow, I will have a classroom full of students who feel safe and ready to learn.
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Pair this blog post with the following:
Know Your Why by Dr. Cara Grant
Being A Champion by Vickie Merrick
Finding Their Swish by Judy LoBianco
Have you read the latest Book of the Month recommendation?
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