Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hitting the Restart Button

I have to get something off my chest. I was not excited about returning this fall. I was not looking forward to starting my 21st year of teaching. I was not looking forward to getting back to the grind of working with students. Pushing them to be better each day. I was really dragging.

Why? Honestly, because I really thought I was getting a new job. I had interviewed twice for Administrative jobs that I was really excited about getting. Both opportunities provided me with the chance for a final round interview with the Superintendent and other members of the Admin Team. I was so close to landing these jobs, I could taste it.

When I received the phone call with the news I did not get them, I was crushed. Actually, crushed does not truly describe how I felt. I really thought I had an excellent shot at both opportunities. Well, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

What helped to pull me out of my funk? About a week ago I started sending "Good Notes Home" to a few students each day. The emails I sent were nothing spectacular, just a brief note describing the things I saw in class: asking good questions, helping other classmates, doing solid work, etc. I wanted to share with parents a brief snippet of what was going on with their child in my class. We do not see them until late November when we have Conferences.

The feedback I have received from parents has been awesome. They really like the fact that I am taking the time to share the "good stuff" going on in our room. I am not focusing the note on the grade they are receiving. I am focusing on the good habits that I see.

How has this little practice helped me? Actually, it has given me the shot in the arm I desperately needed. Also, it has forced me to look for the good things certain students are doing during the day. It has made my observations intentional so I can share these notes with parents later.

I highly recommend starting this activity. It does not take a lot of time during the day (less than 10 minutes), so there really is no excuse. Usually when teachers reach out to parents it is to share a problem. I still may have to make those calls one day, but I will have started the relationship on a positive note prior to that exchange.

Many thanks to George Couros (@gcouros) and Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) for blogging about the importance of getting rid of the excuses and sitting down to write.

What have you done recently to hit the "restart button"? Please share.

1 comment:

Jonathon Wennstrom said...

Thanks for the post Jim. While I'm sorry you didn't get the admin job you were trying for, it sounds like you are really making a positive impact on the students that you are working with. The positive notes are a wonderful idea and as you said, it doesn't take much time to make s big impact! Keep up the great work