Sunday, December 27, 2015

5 Tips for Avoiding Winters Grip



For many, we have entered into the most difficult time of year. Winters grip is upon us.

The days of summer are long gone and spring is nowhere in sight. The days seem to be getting shorter, not longer. And the wet, cold, dreary weather that is upon us doesn't seem to be heading out anytime soon. Even those that enjoy the winter weather have their skis tucked away in their garages. For many, it's miserable.

With that being the case, this time of year can pull us toward the dark side of what we do both at home and at work. Often we find ourselves complaining about the weather, frustrated at travel conditions and for those of us in education, our work can become brutally mundane with routine and case load. The days are in fact, getting longer.

For me, however, this is the time of year where we as educators get to make the greatest impact on teaching and learning. As educators, we have very little to "compete" with. Students and teachers are going to come to school each day and undoubtedly it will be school itself that will become the focus and the highlight of the days, weeks and months ahead. Therefore, and with that in mind, be intentional this winter. Seize the opportunity.

So, take a few moments and consider the following tips to a successful (educational) winter. And, of course, have an intense season of teaching and learning in the world in which you live and work.

Re-State Your Goals, Define Your One Word - Remember back in August when you laid out your plan for the year ahead? You created a few goals, maybe a personal one along with the mandated achievement goal? Well, time to dust those off and get back to taking stock of where you are. The years not over, mine as well ensure you are back on track. And, for those that are familiar with One Word, this is a simple way to gain clarity this calendar year. Have a plan.

Identify a Weakness - Let's face it. We all stink at something. Yes, even the best of us have an area the requires us to reflect upon and improve on. Find that gap in your teaching and learning and tackle it head on. This is different than a goal, goals are universal and all encompassing. In this case, you are purposefully stating that you must improve upon this weakness to be a positive, impactful educator. So, identify it, come up with a plan and forge ahead. Build yourself.

Focus On Relationships - If there is ever a time to emphasize the importance of relationships, this is the time of year when they are tested more than any other. We can easily get agitated of each other just as much as much as we get frustrated with the slush on the roadways. Keeping that in mind, whether a teacher of students or a leader of teachers, invest in your colleagues. Talk about the big stuff, and the little stuff. And, not just the educational side of things. Be invested with whom you work. Take pride in knowing each other. Be there.

Build Culture - Recently I read a book that talked specifically about culture. It went into great depth about the concept of team, the attitude of the stake-holders and the power of responses. My takeaway (and there were many) was this; if you don't have a culture that speaks to the direction of the organization, the odds of your organization going places (being successful) decrease significantly (if at all). Seems obvious, I know. So this winter, be purposeful with how you build the culture of your team. Pull your leadership team together and make it a concerted effort. Be intentional.

Be the Powerful Force - If you haven't seen The Force Awakens by now, I would encourage you to see this mesmerizing tale and the messaging within the movie. Connecting this back to the months ahead, I am in awe of how in the face of darkness and doom, the Rebellion Force and its team of characters continue to rely on the simpleness of staying focused, working collaboratively and being vigilant in their pursuit of good and how they overcome the grip of the dark side. It is these actions as a team that always remained at the core of their efforts. As the leaders within our buildings, it is our charge to take on this same role. We are the leaders and the visionaries to our success. Therefore, be the powerful force.

Bonus Tip - Stay Active. Even though the days are shortened, find a way to get your body going. Whether in your classroom, in the hallways or around the building, get yourself moving. Put exercise into your winter routine. Spring will arrive, and you will want to be ready. So, get moving.

With the calendar turning from one month to the next, and the days becoming filled with opportunities to learn, continue to do your part to be the highlight of each day. Whether offering lessons for students or teachers, know that it is your pulse that will dictate the heartbeat of the entire classroom, building and organization. In the end, ensure that your actions will keep you from falling into the grip of winter.