Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Edu Home Stretch #YourEduStory

This week's topic for #YourEduStory: Spring can be a tough time for teachers (with a stretch until spring break and then after it before summer). How do you help morale on campus as tiredness sets in and the kids get squirrely?

Tired teachers and students? I don't believe what I am writing. 

Fatigue is an understatement for most in education at this time of the year. The past month has consisted of weekly testing for our students, prepping for testing for our teachers, and refreshing computers for us ITSs. Needless to say, it has not been full of all of the excitement the rest of the year carries. 

For myself, I designate time each day for inspiration. Typically, that comes at lunch or when I wake up each day. This is my time to peruse Twitter and Google + for the inspiration and the ideas that I want to try. These are the things that get me excited and motivated for the rest of the year. They make me look forward to next year. They make me want to be better.

This is my solution for myself.

For the teachers and students I work with, I find the key is in finding their passion. For me, it's ideas. I like to have time to be inspired. This motivates me. For others, this overwhelms them. I find it easier to motivate students than their adult counterparts. 

For students, I like to throw in the "extra" learning, the things we need to be doing all year, but haven't reached that point. Last week, our librarians hosted a Maker Week for our students in the library. This was an extra learning opportunity and a motivation to some. For others, an extra art activity is motivation. Students need time during this period to do their normal subjects in environments that are not about pass/fail, but about learning. Some of my best memories of school came at the end of the year when teachers let loose and let us explore. One year, I researched T.S. Elliot just because I could. Another year, we were able to recreate the solar system to scale. It was non-typical, fun, and incredibly difficult. It was a huge motivation.

We need to produce the same experiences for teachers. I can't say I'm perfect at this, but it's a goal. I want to provide more opportunities for teachers to "let loose" and explore. Last week, our ITS department had a Maker day. Did we have other things to do? Yes. Could they wait? Yes. I left that meeting feeling refreshed and motivated. Imagine what a similar experience could do for our teachers. It's seems counterproductive in some ways. However, I like to relate it to exercise. 

I've been a competitive athlete for nearly all but a few years of my life. It's provided me useful analogies in school many times. When you are doing endurance and speed training, you can't just sprint to the end, you have to take short rests. It's during these active rests that your body is able to, then, reach an even higher point. 

School is the same way. Those active rests - be it a Maker Day or an exploration day - make us that much stronger. It seems like a risk, but it works. 

Are you willing to take that risk for your students and staff?

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