How to have a fresh start in teaching
At the beginning of a new year, many people start thinking about making a fresh start. For some of us, it means making resolutions and sticking to them!! For others, it means making resolutions with no intentions of keeping them. You may be making a resolution to lose weight, start exercising, or be a better teacher.
But, where should you start? Well, the best way I know to help you is by telling where NOT to start! We are going to look at 3 pitfalls that can completely derail your efforts to meet your goals including setting ridiculous goals without a plan of achieving them, having an “all or nothing” perspective, and wanting results without effort.
Ridiculous Goals Without a Plan
I LOVE ridiculous goals. You know, the ones that seem totally out of reach, but get you super-excited with the possibilities. These are the goals that will keep you motivated when everything else seems to be working against you. Many times, we’re afraid to even say these out loud because they seem too big or too extreme.
Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds because you want to be healthy and enjoy your life! Maybe you want to go back to school in an effort to pursue your dream career! Both of these goals seem HUGE because they are.
They will require a lot of faith in yourself, and they certainly aren’t going to happen overnight. They also require a roadmap of sorts. In other words, you need to make a plan. A way to figure out what little steps are required for you to attain this ridiculous goal.
If you are wanting to lose 50 pounds, you need to set weekly goals of losing 2-3 pounds. Then you need to decide how you’re going to make that happen. Are you going to exercise 3 times per week, quit drinking sodas, or eat more fruits and veggies?
If you’re desiring to go back to school and complete your degree, you need to start by enrolling in some courses. You also need to determine your timeline, and how much you can feasibly invest in this endeavor both financially and physically. Will you take one class per semester for 10 years? Will you quit your job and enroll as a full-time student?
Having ridiculous goals is essential to your big picture, but without a plan, you will never reach those goals.
“All or Nothing” Perspective
There are actually two pieces to the “all or nothing” viewpoint that have hindered my success in the past. The “all or nothing” attitude and the “all or nothing” approach. While these may seem like the same thing, I want to examine them separately so you can understand the differences, and how to avoid these two traps.
“All or Nothing” Attitude
A few years ago, I quit making resolutions because I felt like if I didn’t keep them, I was a failure. I had the “all or nothing” mentality! I was thinking things like…
- “My students didn’t get the scores I was hoping they would in math. I’m a failure as a teacher.”
- “I do the same thing as Mrs. McTeacherpants, but she is better than me so I must be a failure.”
When I started thinking like this, I was bound to fail. Why did I think I was a failure because my students didn’t get the math scores I was hoping they would get? Did I do everything wrong? Of course not! But, I allowed myself to get caught up in thinking that because one thing didn’t go like I planned, I must be an utter failure in every area of my life!
Looking at it from the outside, it’s hard to understand how we can get tripped up here, but I’ve been guilty on more than one occasion. If you have never had the “all or nothing” attitude, you are leaps and bounds ahead of me. But, if you’re honest, I would daresay, you have also found yourself in a similar mindset, and having an attitude like this is hindering our effectiveness as teachers.
“All or Nothing” Approach
I like to refer to this as the “act now, think later” approach to life. Consider this…
Have you ever gone on one of those fad diets where you changed everything about the way you eat in one day? Maybe you are a meat lover who chose to go “vegan” or a carb-lover who decided to try “Adkins.” How did it turn out? Were you able to keep up your momentum past a day or two?
In my case, I tried the Adkins Diet and as a self-proclaimed carb-a-holic, I, literally, thought I was going to die of starvation. FYI, I lasted 4 whole days before I threw in the towel. Was I able to continue the Adkins “death to carbs” diet long-term and reach my goal? Absolutely not!
Why couldn’t I maintain my weight-loss goal? The obvious reason is I didn’t try to approach losing weight in a sensible way. I jumped in with both feet completely unaware of what I was getting into, and then felt like a failure because of my “all or nothing” approach.
Results Without Effort
In examining this last pitfall, I’m going to dish out a little bit of tough love here, but I want you to remember it comes from a place of love. Everything we do in life requires effort. We all have certain innate strengths and weaknesses, but even though something isn’t a strength doesn’t mean we can’t do it. It simply means we’re going to have to exert more effort to achieve our desired results.
We all have to accept that things don’t just “fall in our laps.” (Ok..occasionally that happens, but even in those cases we have typically put effort somewhere.) We have to work for things, and this is where we can sometimes get trapped if we aren’t careful.
Results come from the efforts that we sow, and therefore, if we aren’t willing to put in the effort required, we can’t expect results. It’s that simple.
Remember, if you’ve fallen into these traps, you aren’t alone. Every single one of these pitfalls has tripped me up at least once…possibly twice. Ok, ok…many times.
However, it’s my hope that you will see the reality of it. You are not the only person who is afraid to set goals because of past failure, but those past failures don’t have to define your future.
Now you know where you’ve gotten stuck in the past allowing you to set yourself up for success. You are ready to set those ridiculous goals and make strides to achieve them. You can release the “all or nothing” attitude and approach, and put forth the effort to achieve the results you want.
I believe in you and I know you can do it; you just have to believe in yourself as much as I do!