This is my first post for 2014 and so I find it fitting that I share one of my new year teaching resolutions, which spun out of my top 10 teaching struggles post. Here it is ladies and gentlemen, this year I resolve to…
stop engaging in the school drama.
Don’t worry fine art department, I am not talking about putting an end to the spring musical. I simply mean to stop participating in the destructive habits that can stir the proverbial pot. In a previous school, that pot overflowed with bad vibes that ended with a lot of tears…and a new job. Although I currently work in a relatively low drama school, there are always means to improve personal habits and nip the drama in the bud. Now that I have killed you with clichés, I can tell you exactly how I mean to go about this plan. I’d love to hear your teaching new year’s resolutions or your feedback on this blog in the comment section below.
1. It is not fair to compare. Sure, so and so has smaller class-sizes, better preps, more advanced classroom technology, and is lavished with praise at the faculty meetings. The question here is: so what? Don’t get me wrong, I am a tireless advocate for equity, but when I really look at my school jealousy, the differences are mostly petty. More importantly, they are irrelevant. Do I have what I need to teach effectively? Yes. Would I vote any of my kids off my island? No. (well, not everyday…). The bottom line is that comparing what I have to what other people have not only causes frustration, it is generally an exercise in futility. I desperately want to cultivate an attitude of doing the best I can with what I have and with a positive attitude to boot, which means the comparisons must stop.
2. Stop over-talking. I suffer from severe foot in mouth syndrome and more often than I like to admit, I find myself talking about things that are none of my business to people who have no business listening to me blabber. Sometimes it is gossip; sometimes it is random; sometimes both cause drama and I just need to stop. If it is not my business and/or it is not the right audience, for goodness sakes stop talking about it Guthrie!
3. Repeat after me, “I am not always right”. I think I am pretty good at my job and I have a relatively clear head on the issues important to me. That being said, life is complicated and who am I to leap to judgement without understanding all the factors. As it turns out, I am not always right. Weird. I know.
4. Pick battles carefully. I love to lead the charge against what I see as wrong (see above). However, it is not good for my soul to constantly crusade on every issue. Fight for academic services for struggling students? Yes. Fight for a nominal change in the school dress code? No. I am going to prioritize my concerns and I have a sneaking suspicion that some issues will resolve themselves without me raising my hand at every faculty meeting to voice my opinion.
5. More coffee, less complaining. I think a lot of my school drama comes from down trodden moments where I feel tired and over-worked, so I just start venting. Coffee is more than the sum of its caffeine for me; it is also a treat, a break, and with my face buried in a mug, a handy way to stop me from over-talking!
6. Have a tribe. Occasionally. we all need to vent and run ideas past others. I need to focus on a small circle of people I can trust. This is a little tricky, because it can’t become a clique of negativity. With my tribe, I still need to share all the niceties and classroom victories that will fill the bucket with positive energy so that I can cash in when I need to vent without it seeming like I am always “that teacher” who comes by to complain.
7. Let it go. Several weeks ago, I had a private meeting with an administrator who meant well, but deeply hurt my feelings. I haven’t been able to look her in the eyes since then. Maybe because she was so wrong? Maybe because she was so right? Either way, it is time to let that go. It feels bad to hold a grudge and it takes a little bit of energy that I could sure use to grade a few more essays…
What are your new year’s resolutions? Do any of mine resonate with you?