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Several weeks have passed since the beginning of the school year. Our plans for the new year have been implemented. Some things probably worked better than others. Some things may have had to be adjusted—or even abandoned—and new plans had to be built to replace them. Our excitement and anxiety in meeting our students have passed, and we are getting to know our students better each day. Hopefully, we have found a rhythm and pace that is working, at least for now.  

However, with the arrival of fall, we can find ourselves struggling to stay energetic and optimistic. Now that the beginning of the year has passed and we have settled in, we may be experiencing patterns of interaction and behavior—ours and students—that are not what we want. We may even be uncertain if we are fully following through with the goals we set and the changes to which we committed. We could also be experiencing some nostalgia as the seasons change and the days become shorter.  

These feelings may be telling us that it is time to take a moment and create some time to assess where we are, where we want to go next, and how we intend to get there. In other words, it is time to pause, reflect, and re-energize. Let’s explore how we might engage in each of these crucial assessment and adjustment activities.  

Pause 

  • Celebrate what you did to start the year successfully. 
  • Identify what seems to be working well now. 
  • Celebrate the learning progress students have made. 
  • Appreciate the relationships formed so far. 
  • Congratulate yourself on something you did that made someone else’s day better. 
  • Take some breaks by dedicating evening or weekend time to let school go and focus your attention and energy elsewhere.  

Reflect 

  • What initial student behavior no longer needs support, and in turn, what routine scaffolding can be withdrawn? 
  • Where do students seem to struggle most in developing learning skills? 
  • What are you doing that students might do for themselves? 
  • Where can you adjust to conserve time and energy? 
  • Where might you collaborate with colleagues to share strategies and build new ideas? 
  • What challenges and worries are troubling you most?  

Re-energize 

  • Elevate the attention you give to relationships. They create energy, improve outlook, and build confidence.  
  • Monitor the amount of scaffolding and daily support you commit to students. They may be ready to be less dependent on you than you assume. 
  • Sharpen your focus on helping students develop learning skills rather than memorizing and repeating what they have been taught. Future learning and instruction will be easier if students become more proficient learners.  
  • Reach out to colleagues from whom you think you might learn and who might learn from you. Exchanging ideas, building strategies, and even sharing setbacks can energize you and build your confidence to try new things.  
  • Clarify and confront what stands in the way of the progress and success you seek. Shifting and solving a few key issues and removing a key barrier or two can be amazingly rejuvenating. 
  • Commit to scheduling time away from school with family and friends and engaging in activities that are not work-related. Occasional separation from work can be a great source of energy and a needed reset.  

Remember that this is a time of year when our energy can ebb, and we might begin to question ourselves. Nevertheless, we can seize control and shift our outlook. It may be that, by pausing, reflecting, and re-energizing, we can regain our focus and recharge our enthusiasm. 

Thought for the Week

Simply pulling a strategy “off the shelf” or defaulting to the most recently read article or staff development session topic may not generate the results we seek.

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