Teaching Opinion

Reconnect With What Matters Every Day

By Starr Sackstein — December 20, 2018 3 min read
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Everything we do in education matters, but sometimes the minutia of the day to day gets in the way of recognizing it.

And the further we get from that connection, the more likely we are to feel burned out and resentful.

Educators at all levels and positions are often forced to deal with the less inspiring parts of what we do, like meetings, paperwork, and/or discipline to name a few. When we start to run low on energy and the students are high energy for nonschool-related things around the holidays, it is easy to lose sight of our individual whys.

Which is why it is so important to recognize moments that bring it all back into focus. Recently, I had a meeting about a student with some particularly high needs. What we have been doing hasn’t been helping, but everyone who has worked with him is committed to finding the best fit to help him find success.

Sitting in the meeting, learning about the student and what has been done already gave us a unique opportunity to come together and start brainstorming some out of the box options that may help this student find success and move off the “at risk” designation.

And then everything fell into place. We came up with a very unorthodox idea that could work and we are setting that plan in motion. Of course, it remains to be seen if it will be successful, but we are on the right track to at least go a different way, try a different approach, and provide the best learning for this particular child.

Another way we are able to connect with what matters is by getting into each other’s classrooms, and teachers don’t get to do it enough. But what if we hear students raving about something going on in a colleague’s classroom and we want to see for ourselves? We need to build ways for teachers to get into each other’s rooms so that we can build on what is working in multiple spaces.

The benefits to this are:

  • promotes collegiality
  • intentionally connects learning across content areas
  • offers a different perspective on how shared students learn in different places
  • provides sometimes simple solutions to big problems just seeing how a colleague works it
  • opens up a dialogue about best practice
  • allows for the sharing of materials/ideas/collaboration

Building schools where doors are open more than they are closed promotes an atmosphere of collaboration and connection. Students feel the adults working together and know that we do as we say and expect them to.

Teachers are the greatest resources we have in schools, and when they remain largely isolated, those resources aren’t taken advantage of as well as they can be.

So what can we do in this holiday season to lift each other up and continue to connect with our why?

When you hear students raving about a colleague, tell them. Or better yet, tell the students that the teacher would love to know.

When you see something you want to try, thank the colleague and ask for feedback. Let’s open our doors and work together to make sure no students fall through the cracks.

Ask for help, and mean it. Recently, one of our newest teachers saw on Twitter that I co-taught with one of his peers. He asked me if I would come co-teach with him. It made my day, it really did. Being in classrooms is my favorite place to be as a leader, and when I get to work with members of our team, I feel like my expertise is being used to its fullest.

Educators get into education for the right reasons; let’s remind each other why we are here and keep pushing to do what is best for our kids and our communities.

It’s worth it. We’re all worth it.

What are you doing currently to lift kids and colleagues up in this holiday season? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.