We all hoped next fall everything would be back to normal, but now we're not so sure. Theories and ideas abound about what form next school year will take.
So what are we as teachers to do? How can we plan when we don't know what we're planning for? Where do we spend our time when there's so much uncertainty?
In this episode, we discuss six imperatives that will help focus us on what matters most - and avoid draining our energy worrying about possibilities that may or may not ever materialize.
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With a big question mark on everyone’s minds about what school is going to look like in the fall, that leaves us teachers wondering how we are supposed to use this summer. Are we supposed to plan for all these different possibilities? How can we get ready for next school year when we don’t know what it’s going to look like? How do we make the best use of this summer? We have a list of ways you can prepare yourself both mentally and practically.
1. Take your worries and concerns to god
The first and most important way to prepare this summer is this- every single time we feel stressed, we can take that to God. We have to go back to Him over and over again. Tell Him, “God, I trust you. You are in control. You know exactly what’s going to happen and exactly what’s not. You’re not going to let anything happen that will ruin Your plan. I trust you. I trust you to give me the wisdom I need when I need it. I choose not to worry.” This should become more of a habit the more often you do it.
2. REst and Refresh your mind
Next, take time to rest and refresh your mind this summer. This year has been challenging- you’ve been forced to learn so many new things, think creatively, and adapt. You need a mental break, so take it!
One way or another, we will need to innovate next year. You need a fresh mind when that comes. If you spend all of June and July frantically trying to come up with solutions for every eventuality, your mind will be spent and unable to come up with real solutions when you need to. Instead, prioritize activities that allow your mind to relax and tell yourself, “I’m not thinking about school right now.”
If ideas come to you, write them down. Maybe even spend some time exploring them & getting excited. But don’t allow your mind into the “stress” zone where you’re wracking your brain to come up with solutions to problems that may or may not even materialize. Save that mental energy!
3. think about what you want to change
Spend more time thinking about things that you want to change, rather than worrying about things that may (or may not) have to change. What have you learned during this time that might cause you to make changes in your classroom? Maybe some students thrived online and you want to explore that. How can you incorporate some of those things into your regular classroom? This time has forced us to go back to the core of learning and ask, “What matters most? How can we motivate students? How can we care for students’ mental health?” Those are the lessons to carry over into future school years.
4. learn new ideas that excite, re-inspire, and affect the long-term
When selecting professional development programs and books to read, think about things that excite and re-inspire you. In addition, focus on skills, time, and/or energy improvements that will improve your teaching long-term because they will help with whatever the fall looks like while ensuring you don’t waste your time chasing what-if worst-case scenarios.
For example, if you’re struggling with time management, Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club is a good option. If you’re struggling with classroom management, we have Classroom Management 101 and Beyond Classroom Management. Maybe you’re interested in new technology or project-based learning. Whatever it is, find something you want to improve on and work on that.
Time spent here is worthwhile because it will get your creative juices going and will benefit you no matter what school looks like in the fall. If we do have some elements of virtual or blended learning, those tools will still help you both now and in the future.
5. plan what you can and let go of what you cannot
Getting frustrated about what we can’t change or what we can’t plan for is a huge drain on our mental energy. Instead, ask yourself, “What can I do?” All summer, ask yourself what you can do that will be helpful regardless of what your teaching situation looks like down the road and spend your time getting those things done.
Then, let go of what you don’t know and cannot control. Go back to point number 1 and choose to trust that God is in control.
6. When you get answers, then tackle those challenges
Once you get clear direction from your administrator about what is happening in the fall, then you can tackle those challenges. For now, plan out a few dedicated days before back-to-school time to be set aside to work out the coming challenges when you have more information. You may need to plan for childcare and communicate with your spouse about this. Having that time blocked on your calendar will help you mentally to be less anxious about the future.
If you do have situations that you have to adjust to once everything is finalized (and not beforehand!), remember to be creative! Don’t think, “I have to do ____.” Think, “How can I accomplish ____ in a way that will work for me and my students?” Look for solutions that will work on a longer term basis and think outside of crisis mode.
We are excitedly exploring how we can best support you and help you find the answers you will need this fall. We are considering creating a program that will help connect teachers to find solutions to whatever challenges we end up facing. If this sounds intriguing to you, please enter your email address below, and we'll reach out if/when we have more details:
Remember, take some time to enjoy this summer and give yourself a rest from the chaos of this past school year. When you do want to explore new ideas related to teaching, make sure you are thinking long-term and about what you want to learn about. Above all, remember that God is in control!
More than ever before, Angela Watson’s 40 hour teacher workweek is invaluable. With the changes anticipated next year, the demands on teacher time could be even heavier. Angela’s program shows you how to be a better teacher in less time, which is a great use of your summer. Sign up now to get on the waitlist so you’re ready to join when enrollment opens here.
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