I love Mondays! I know that I am not normal (with this and other things). I see it in other teachers and, especially, students. I embrace the possibilities of the week. After a great weekend, with Wisconsin weather in the 70s, it’s time to refocus on the week. To do that, I use these three questions:
1. What is the one thing students need to learn this week?
This isn’t an easy task. To boil it down to one thing, I have to allow for the idea that we can’t do everything. For example, this week, students are giving their TED-style talks about the 20% Time Project that we just completed. I will be giving feedback about their speaking content and skills, but the one thing that they have to understand and practice this week is empathy. Speaking is important as a student and future employee, but empathy is important as a person, and I want more than anything for students to be better people when they leave my classroom than the day that they entered it. My instruction, conversations, and actions will be focused on teaching and modeling empathy this week. It is the have to of the week.
2. What do my students need?
I have a 25 minute drive to work, and instead of listening to sports radio, like I do most days, I spend Monday mornings thinking about the 127 students that I have. While I don’t usually get them all, I try to list them and think about each one personally. What do I know about their personal lives? Last Thursday, a student found out his parents are divorcing. That surely will affect his work. There were basketball and lacrosse tournaments over the weekend. It was one student’s birthday this weekend. I have to remember to ask about her party. There’s no way that I can remember everyone or everything, but I try to remember why I am doing this: students.
3. What am I grateful for?
I started this exercise after reading an article about gratitude, and it really works for me. I love my job. I have autonomy. I have a core group of teachers who I trust. I have fun with students and enjoy watching them grow. It would be easy to complain about work or worry about it, but it’s not like I am working on the roads in the hot sun. I get to hang out with great kids with huge futures and influence them.
These questions may not work for you, but maybe you can find a way to refocus on what is really important to you as you enter your work week.