Do you wake up excited about the lesson you are going to be teaching? If you don’t, what if you could? The reality is that teaching is hard work, but you chose it. You had a vision. It probably was far from reality, but how can you insert a sliver of your vision into your day?
I’m not going to begin to tell you that I have cultivated an attitude of gratitude that makes each day a joy or I wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the education world by storm. That isn’t true. I’m a work in progress, but I can tell you my secret to bringing some excitement back to my week.
It’s about finding one thing each week that reminds you why you decided to do this in the first place.
Don’t roll your eyes at me.
I know I’m pushing some of you outside your comfort zone, that’s where growth happens people. Teachers are warriors on a mission. In a space that is full of distractions, like unending responsibilities, relentless administrators, and little support the warrior in you can lose sight of your mission – teaching students.
Is teaching more stressful than other profession/jobs? Can a new lesson plan help?
That is what the research is telling us. All the other things that are outside your control can tear down your defenses and even lead to leaving the profession (in fact the turnover rate for teacher’s in astounding). Creating just one way to renew the teacher/warrior inside you can be good for you, your students, and your life at home.
I don’t think that one thing needs to be happy hour or chocolate, those are not renewing your commitment to teaching. I think having just one lesson each week that you are looking forward to can make a huge difference.
This will work for to help first-year teachers manage their stress and renew the commitment of more experienced teachers (keeping good teachers in the classroom).
Use your time being inspired instead of reinventing the wheel.
Time is finite. You will have some productivity experts tell you that there is an abundance of time. We always find time for our priorities. These people were not teachers.
There is no way that you can go in every day with a new and amazing lesson that hits all of the points of a perfect 5e lesson and differentiated to all of your students’ needs without help. That is a recipe for burnout.
I know because I was in the classroom before help was so readily available. I was handed a teacher’s edition (in some of my jobs) and told to go to the state website to get a copy of the standards.
There are amazing free and paid resources for teachers. Teachers are sharing what they are doing that is working.
Be willing to spend a little money (I know you don’t have a lot) and consider getting a lesson a week (don’t forget those free resources) to build your library of teaching resources. I always suggest teacher created resources whenever possible. Most of the lessons that you grab off of blogs (like this one), TPT, or publishers will still need tweaking. Tweaking takes way less time and so it isn’t chipping away at your mission.
As you make changes go back to your mission – how can I make this be the most benefit to my students?
When I lesson plan for science, I like to add in interesting lessons that teach kids how to problem solve. The scientific method is the perfect place to explore real world problems using these problem solving steps. By the way, I have a basic lesson plan template in the subscriber library.
Just the action of searching and seeing what others are doing is inspiring. Build your resource library. One caveat: set a timer when you start searching or you will find your ten minutes has become an hour. Always remember that a free lesson plan that took hours to find wasn’t free at all.
Outsource your resource search
Before you google teacher stores near me, join Facebook groups or forums or make friends with teachers that teach the way you want to teach (or all of these) and simply ASK.
What does that look like? “I’m starting a unit on the cell membrane, does anyone have a great resource that they can suggest to really help the kids connect to this concept in a 50 minute class period. I can be flexible so it could be a lab or learning stations, I’m just looking for anything”.
That will be like the best search engine filter ever. Sometimes it will be brilliant and sometimes it will be a little less shiny (dare I say dull), but just starting this process will help point you back towards your mission again. It will help you sort through the types of teaching materials and find the best websites for teachers.
You’re going to be excited to try this lesson out and see if it works, you’ll be reflecting on parts you like and parts you don’t, you’ll be reminded of why you started this messy process of being a teacher in the first place. Just once a week. You could even give it a name – “Messy Mondays” or “Thinking Thursdays” – and let kids vote on the lesson at the end of class. This is a great extension to some of those problem solving exercises.
This could really be any form you want to make it: project based learning, learning stations, booms cards, incorporate a new activity into your lesson plan format each week. If a week feels like a lot, start with once a unit.
Collaborate and Innovate
First a word about standards. If at all possible, create a list of your standards to check off when you lesson plan. This will keep your administrator happy. Make sure that everything new and innovative checks a box.
Team planning has become common in the 21st-century classroom and it can be awesome or it can be awful. If you find yourself in a team that is resistance to innovation or collaboration (everyone has to do it my way), they probably aren’t your people.
If you are staying in that school, come in prepared and ready with whatever suggested change and WHY. Pull up research (don’t be afraid to outsource finding data) on why you think trying this thing will work.
Most administrators love innovation and technology is an extra bonus. Even the most stubborn colleague can be brought around by the promise of an accolade from the administration. Start small and create little wins to build on.
If that doesn’t work, consider incorporating what they are pushing on you in a different way. Put it in learning stations, turn it into boom cards, make a game. Change it into something that you look forward to working with – that’s the innovate part.
Don’t know where to start? Grab these 3 ways to repurpose worksheets.
You can do this.
Trying something new each week might feel overwhelming, but start slowly and I know that before long you will be looking forward to your “new” day. To meet the challenge you will need to use some ready made resources, talk to other teachers to get recommendations and suggestions (don’t get lost in Pinterest) and convince some of your colleagues to either go along or adapt their way to how you present material.
I believe you can be the creative, enthusiastic, hands-on science teacher you wish you had and still be effective!
While you are taking a break from school, choose to recharge. Take some time away without any thought to school or lessons at all.
After those first few weeks, take some time this summer to reflect on your teaching, read some books, participate in some professional development, reach out to other teachers, and start gathering resources.
I would love to hear from you. Comment below and let me know how you will use these strategies in the upcoming school year.