Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Rain Won’t Get Me Down

flexibilityThis past weekend we were supposed to go camping in our new camper. Unfortunately when we woke up, it was pouring down rain. I was so disappointed! But we are lucky enough to have the flexibility to change our plans. After thinking about this, it reminded me that teachers have to have the same flexibility in the classroom.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a lesson planned (of course, I just knew it would be a dynamite lesson!) and then the fire alarm goes off, or an unscheduled assembly is called, or some other unforeseen event occurs. This means that I have to put off my lesson or change my plans.

Sometimes I have plans to work with a specific student on a specific skill and the student might be out sick or have some issues that keep us from working on that lesson. Sometimes the mood of the student or the class or myself might need to be considered before doing a complicated lesson.

I think it is hard for new teachers to learn how to be flexible. As a new teacher, I remember being so focused on what I was trying to do and could only see one path to get there. As years of experience got underway, I learned more and more how I had to plan for the what ifs. What if the day doesn’t go as planned? What if my student(s) are absent? What if I am absent? What if the copy machine is broken? What if the technology doesn’t work? What if I find out that I forgot some equipment? What if the administration comes in to observe (which always threw me for a loop)? There are so many more what ifs that I had to consider.

Over time I learned to have a Plan B and a Plan C in case Plan A didn’t work. Many times these alternative plans were general enough to apply to other lessons that I had. I didn’t have to come up with a new plan for each lesson.

Then I learned that I didn’t just need to have this flexibility in my lessons, but in my daily routine, and also my own life. Knowing that I had alternatives kept me from feeling boxed in and getting burned out. Looking at alternatives helps me see the broader picture instead of just having tunnel vision.

How do you keep flexibility in your professional life? Please share.

Image: 'Great Flexibility !'
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