There is a sense of finality in the lives of educators that doesn't exist in most professions. We see a year being over around May, we see large changes at this time because we no longer teach the students we've grown fond of as we anticipate summer and then the next group of students. It is this time of year, in January, where we have a nice break and we look towards finishing our school year. There are definitely pros and cons to the feeling of "stop and go" "new and old" "beginnings and ends" that go along with our profession.
Today is the last day of 2015, a day many people make resolutions for the future- giving up soda, taking up exercising, reading your Bible regularly, eating less cheese- things we think will make us a better person for the future us. So many of us look towards the future with anticipation. In order to move into 2016 with a positive mindset there are also things we have to leave behind from last semester. Things that we have allowed to supersede our effectiveness. Things that need to be swept out of our lives as we face this new year. Things that hold us back from being our best self. They include:
- Hurt feelings- Perhaps it was a parent that said something that made you feel like you weren't meeting their child's needs but you were doing your best. Perhaps it was a co-worker that is just hard to get along with. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding that you haven't let go of. Perhaps you were truly "done wrong" but holding onto those hurt feelings just causes a festering in your spirit that will poison your next semester. Forgiveness, whether warranted or not, will free you from that poison. Forgiveness will help you leave hurt feelings behind.
- Insecurities- As humans we aren't perfect. Every year we are challenged with students that make us feel insecure because we fear we aren't meeting their needs. We are faced with new district/school initiatives that push us out of our comfort zones. We fear we are under qualified, not equipped and ill advised. Be easier on yourself. Know that perfection is not possible. Being your best and trying your hardest is always important. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings look at these things as opportunities for growth. Insecurities can lead to stagnation but accepting shortcomings and owning them can lead to a willing heart with a growth mindset. Accepting the fact that you aren't perfect is part of this. Don't get disheartened when someone shows you opportunities for personal growth. A growth mindset can help you leave insecurities behind.
- Fear- Fear paralyzes us. We all fear something professionally. Sometimes it owns us more than other times. Fear of change is one area that can cause bitterness and gossip. Fear of change is normal, reactions to fear is the important thing to focus on. Being honest with yourself and others that you fear something is a great first step. When you can face your fears with an open mind you are more able to overcome them and leave them behind.
- Failures- We've all had something in the first semester that felt like a big time flop. Maybe it was a lesson plan, a conversation, a relationship, or just a day. We can't allow failures to become our identifier. We must fail forward, learn from our mistakes, and let them go. We must dissect why they happened and then leave them behind.
For some educators, there is dread when thinking about that last day of Christmas break. They don't want to face this next semester. It's time to do some professional house cleaning. Sweep those hurt feelings, insecurities, fear, and failures out the back door with 2015. Fling open the doors and windows of yourself and face 2016 without the garbage holding you back. Your students don't deserve to be surrounded by that stink. Your coworkers need a team player with positive input. Your administrative team values those that can rise in diversity. Loosen the 2015 bad vibe noose and head into 2016 with a sense of celebration!