What Have You Done Through Half of Your Summer Vacation Teachers?
The summer. The subject of such great songs as "Summer" by Calvin Harris, or "Summer of 69'" by Bryan Adams and, of course, "Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Price, but also a time for teachers to recoup from the stress of the school year. Three months do not seem enough time to recharge their emotional battery for the coming year, but more often than not, it does the trick. It is more, though, than just one's emotional battery that is important to re-calibrate. It is also an opportunity for teachers, especially new ones, to improve their craft.
From the innocent new graduate excitedly waiting to start their first year of teaching, to the exhausted fourth-year teacher contemplating their fifth year as their last year, the coming year can always turn out to be a make-or-break year. A tried and true way to approach the unknown is through over-preparation. People often assume that a certain amount of pre-packaged, university experiences are enough. But, that is only applicable for "just enough" attitude. "Just enough" is often not enough. For example, classroom behavior management struggles are often found in the top three reasons for teacher to leave the profession.
Certainly, much as been done through a school year to help fortify a teacher's sense of competency but, like when the sensation of thirst first hits you on a hot day means that you are already dehydrated, the same applies when you begin to struggle in the classroom. The most consistent answer for dynamic problems? Prepare more than the average person.
The teacher I come across in our training presentations and who are skilled in behavior management are almost always similar in one important area: they are able to cite an important person, early in their training, as a mentor, and many of those mentors are family members. It is easier to discuss the challenges and obstacles of work with family since most people outside the family circle "don't like to talk shop." Not everyone has a close family member who has/had been a teacher, but there is always the skilled, older friend.
The experienced teacher is much like a skilled martial artist: strong, well-learned techniques are sufficient to manage any unknown situation. That kind of confidence goes a long way. But also like the skilled martial artist, the master teacher never stops working on his/her craft. Beginning teachers can begin their journey to mastery early in their career. He can go to the school he's assigned to during the summer and get to know the surrounding community, or stay home and re-read a chapter in a textbook on classroom that was never covered completely by the professor during your studies, or just spend 15-minutes a day watching YouTube videos made by master teachers on the subject.
Lastly, directed to all teachers, make a plan for your personal time during the school year and make a schedule that will specifically address your health. I am very familiar (by my own behavior) of the temptation that highly processed foods during times of stress can infiltrate one's best intentions. While a donut or pan de polvo may give you a quick lift, it's effect on you over the course of the day promotes fatigue. How about trying to incorporate one thing, every day in the school year, that serves either your mind, body, or soul. I assure you that you will be surprised that you are becoming effortless in your execution of your job.
There is less than a month left in the summer. You will be back to in-services, setting up your room, preparing your first lesson. Treat yourself like your best student, and give yourself the high expectations that you normally reserve for the most adept student. You will be pleasantly surprised.