Spring is upon us! We just got to spring forward and if you are like me, that brings excitement. Warmer weather, getting outside in one layer of clothes and the sun are a few of my favorite parts. Starting to see the green come back in the grass and buds on the trees makes me look forward to the flowers and the full trees. If you’re a teacher, it also means the finish of another school year. I imagine you are also ready to spring forward and look ahead to next year – to a hopefully normal year. Rather than wishing the time away, I wonder if we think about how we can use our experiences that we’ve learned so far to our advantage. What can we do in the now and still look forward to next year? Use the time you have now wisely. Take on the mindset of ending the year strong and start prepping for the shift into next year at the same time.
Tip #1: Reflect
Let’s use last year’s experience to our advantage – as a learning experience. Reflect on the different ways you would have taught something, whether virtual or in-person, or both. Also, consider what did go well in your classroom, or life for that matter. Keep in mind the lessons learned, and also what you are finding success in because of some changes that needed to be made. For example, prioritizing student learning goals is one that comes to mind for me as a positive takeaway. Another would be depending even more on one other’s ideas and support. I have always worked better with input from colleagues, but I found this year I could not be successful without help. People are just important as things to remember with a reflection. As you reflect using your own rearview mirror, ask yourself, “Who has helped me to learn along the journey?” Then, take that information, along with your newfound understanding and look ahead to your future work.
Tip #2: Find your why
I wrote last month about finding what inspires you (Click here to read!). Inspiration can also help you discover your ‘WHY.’ In order to make a next step or understand the urgency, knowing the purpose is important. What is your why? Why do you teach? Why do you work with students? Why do you clean your house? Why do we do anything? Simply asking yourself that last question can give you the desire to complete a task. It can help you in finishing the year strong, as well as being proactive in your planning for next year. It can also be helpful to get you out of a rut if you are burnt out.
This topic is something that has been on my mind for years and I have kept up with Simon Sinek and his work. Check out his work for more if you are interested. My experience in this particular area has been most notable with writing my book. I have had to remind myself several times to keep me on track what my purpose is – widening my impact on students. Whether it is a big project, or a daily task, take a step back. Ask yourself, “What is my why?” You may be surprised by the smile it brings to your face or the renewed passion in your work.
Tip #3: Make a plan
Lastly, knowing you want to finish the year strong and start prepping for next year, may require a plan. It can be as simple as making a list of a few things to do for both and keeping that visual reminder somewhere you can see it regularly. Then, consider what would be the manageable chunks of the items you want to tackle on your plan. If that seems overwhelming, take an event or project that you want to finish out the year strong with. Take it day-by-day and bit-by-bit to complete. Of course also go day-by-day to prepare your thoughts for next year.
My list for the Spring is related to my Student-Centered Mentoring work (and my why) – editing the book manuscript, working on book companion resources, finishing my summer presentation for AVL, and organizing my at-home filing… The filing is a dream item, but hoping by adding it on here I can be accountable to getting it done! The list for prepping for next year is much shorter for now, but it fulfills a need to want to think ahead. I want to work on my schedule for next year and get my calendar coordinated between consulting and school. I may add onto this list of course, but for now it’s manageable and gets me excited to prepare for work travel again! As you think about what your plan includes for the remainder of the school year and planning ahead to next year, remember your plan can be revised along the way.
Spring ahead with excitement as you look in your rearview mirror on all that has been accomplished. Use that to help you in preparing for your future school year. As you reflect, think about the connection of your learning experiences and your ‘WHY.’ Both steps may help you make your plan. Remember that sometimes less is more, so do not stress if your lists are short. Then, look ahead for next month’s surprise post, which I have not narrowed down to a specific topic quite yet!
- Sinek, S. (2012). Find your why. Retrieved March, 2021, from https://simonsinek.com/find-your-why/.