Compromising with Compassion

Are people capable of being solid team players or are they just looking out for themselves? Do we naturally have the art of compromise through compassion or is it a taught behavior? Compromising is coming to an agreement or being able to settle a dispute. Compassion is the concern for others.

According to Brene Brown, “those of us who are compassionate are more likely to ask for what they need.” It is effective to ask for what we need, as long as it is not at the expense of someone else. It is not a bad thing to take care of your own needs first, but true compassion is helping others in order to find their own strength. We need to value our work or no one else will, however, being respectful and flexible will allow us to build better relationships cultivated by compassion. Why are so many of us fearful to have conversations with our colleagues that set effective boundaries as it relates to compassion? First of all, it is hard. Second of all, it might be considered a self-righteous act if we are not aware of our own issues related to the specific compromise needed. When we are more compassionate, we can see the entire experience and will more likely be able to compromise staying away from resentment. We will be able to create boundaries that allow us to be more successful and continue to do the best we can.

Perception, Fear, and Teaching

Are you afraid of perception? Concerned about how your colleagues perceive you? What does it say about us and our own personal views if we are worried about a particular perception from others? With this fear of a specific perception, are we scared that we are not doing enough in the classroom or could it be the impact our teaching has on our students?

The fear of how we think people will perceive us is just that, fear! Any time we try something new in our classroom we are often dealing with the fear that we place upon ourselves and our minds continue to play the “what-if” game. “What if,” this lesson doesn’t work? “What if,” the lesson fails? “What if,” I am making myself too vulnerable? Either way, as teachers, we should feel good about trying something new and the failure itself should be a sign that we are made for something different. How you decide to grow as a teacher, is a personal adventure. You need to do what you need to in order to become a better teacher – if it is attending classes, increasing your professional development, or seeking a mentor, your journey as a teacher is your own. So, fear is sometimes part of the path we need to take in order to grow. Believing in the possibility beyond fear, allows us to improve our teaching skills and become more self-assured.

Only you have the ability to control your fear and how it takes a hold of your life. Utilize your own personality in the classroom to overcome any fear or perception of failure. You get to decide how confident you are everyday and the strength you bring into the classroom.

Leadership in Schools

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about leadership (as you will notice from my Blog posts). Am I doing enough to be a good leader? A positive leader? Are the people within my building doing enough to be good leaders? Do they even want to lead or are they simply following others? Or, are we all so ready for the school year to end, that no one wants to lead at all?

I recently read a newsletter from Jon Gordon who got me thinking about the way in which we lead. What I summarized from his point of view is this…positive leaders ALWAYS invest their time and energy driving a positive culture! Not just some of the time, but ALL OF THE TIME. In my opinion, this should be one of the major reasons why leaders are in leadership positions. They strive to create a positive environment everyday by visiting classrooms, interacting with staff and students alike, and they believe in transforming any negativity that might sabotage teams right from the start.  They share their vision – not just the vision they want from the guidelines that are placed upon them and the district from the State, but the vision that they want for each faculty and staff member. Leaders are able to be optimistic.

So…what if, as leaders, we invested in our staff more regularly, (not just during Teacher Appreciation Week). If professional development and faculty meetings were actually applicable to the teachers needs. Don’t you think teachers would feel that their time was being utilized more wisely? If teachers received more “thank you’s,” “we appreciate you’s,” don’t you think teachers would be more confident in their ability to perform? Don’t you think their dedication and drive would improve?

Being a positive leader is HARD, but it drives individuals to go farther! It drives individuals to become cohesive groups that will work hard to achieve positivity in their own lives and classrooms.

Happiness and Your Curriculum

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Happiness in the workplace! Where does it come from? Our leaders? Ourselves? What do we need in order to thrive as a teacher and leader? Whose responsibility is it to ensure our happiness in the workplace?

In my opinion, our happiness is up to US! We have control over whether or not we come into our building to teach children with happiness and joy in our hearts. Happiness doesn’t necessarily come from WHAT we do, but HOW we FEEL when we are doing it! Why do people get into teaching in the first place? Does it bring us joy? Are we putting ourselves in a position to be happy everyday? Don’t get me wrong, choosing to be happy isn’t always easy (and quite frankly, I sometimes fail). However, once we make the decision to do so, our day will run much smoother. Our perceptions of the cloudy skies change into a positive and we can enter our school building with a little more pep in our step.

On the contrary, we do have moments in our lives where we need to overcome adversity and choosing happiness is a difficult task. As teachers, we are often pressured to have a smile on our face and feel and act happy all of the time, therefore, we stuff our real feelings so we can get through the day. However, it is imperative that we deal with the stressors and emotions that are consuming us, otherwise the downward spiral begins! It is okay to feel bad sometimes, but the most important part is to acknowledge those feelings. Simply saying, “I am stressed, I am overwhelmed, I am malfunctioning,” can help us deal with what is getting in our way and understand what is making us feel this way.

So, how does the concept of happiness translate into curriculum? I feel like this should be a no brainer, but if you are choosing to be happy, then you are going to deliver your curriculum in a more positive manner finding meaningful connections to the material. These connections will then improve your students academic performance and create more healthful relationships between yourself and your students. This happiness translates into more purposeful work in the classroom regardless of the demands that are placed upon us outside the classroom. I have found that if we take risks within our curriculum, reinvigorate our sense of purpose, and rediscover our curricular goals, we can get back to our purpose of why we became a teacher and maintain a high level of happiness.

Curriculum and Control

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Many of us go into teaching because we get to educate the youth of America, we are told that the retirement might still be good by the time we are done teaching, and we have a passion for teaching and educating our own selves to become better individuals. But some, even still have the understanding that we get to control the curriculum we teach. This is both, yes and no. If you are struggling with control and curriculum, here are some tidbits I have learned along the way.

  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – If we are sweating the “small” stuff, it generally means that there is a larger area of our own life that we are putting off and are simply not in the mood to deal with it. In this case, we have to turn inward and ask ourselves a couple questions, “What are we afraid of in the classroom?” “What are we afraid to let our students do alone?” It is okay that our students generate their own learning and questioning. This means that they feel safe in your classroom and they have some control over their own learning. We have let go and relinquish some control. This doesn’t mean that we are not teaching to the standard, it just means our classroom is going in a direction that they want to go while mastering the standard you have set forth. What do we need to be more aware of to let go of the “small” stuff?
  2. You Ask a lot of People their Opinions – As teachers it is sometimes hard to believe in our ability to teach well. When students are not understanding the concept, or we had a lesson that didn’t go well, we often have to go back to the drawing board to figure out what went wrong. However, we need to be confident in our own skills (teaching, creating curriculum and maintaining a safe environment – among other things) and knowledge as of our content. We need to trust our own intuition. If we have people weigh-in too often, then we (have someone) who is justifying our decisions. We will have people that don’t agree with us and that is okay. Just because people don’t agree with us, doesn’t mean it is wrong. As long as you are creative and trying new things, you are getting your information out there. We ask people their opinion because validation makes us feel safe. And…feeling safe is part of feeling like we have some control in the matter.
  3. You Check Out or Avoid Dealing with Things – There is a difference between checking out and avoiding a situation all together. Avoidance is the worst way in which control rears its ugly face. Therefore, we need to work on preventing our need to avoid certain situations or curricular challenges:
    1. Try something out of your comfort zone that challenges your curriculum and your students. Fear and risk are a good thing although it feels scary in the moment, we won’t know if it works unless we try it.
    2. Learn something new about your content or curriculum. For example, Health content is constantly changing and understanding that will allow me to be open to trying and learning new things to become a better teacher and give my students some control.
    3. When we try something new, fear is an emotion that might rear its ugly head, but it is okay to feel this way. When we we try new activities in our curriculum it is the fear that allows us to feel energized that we have taken the risk to try something new anyway
  4. Finally, simply be aware that we are sometimes in need of letting go…recognize that need to let go of the need to be in control.