If you've been teaching long enough, we all know that there is THAT time of year when things just aren't going the way we want them to. The students are acting up, lessons aren't going as planned, or we're just in a funk. For me, this happens usually once a six weeks. After teaching for quite a few years now, I can now identify the routine actions that I have done/do in my teaching career to help me reset my mind and help create a new start when needed. I feel that these small tasks allow for me to have "control" over small things. The following tasks have helped me during those inevitable "funks":
1. Creating a New Seating Chart for my Classes:
New seating charts are usually my first move when the issue is classroom behavior. Unfortunately, sometimes only a few students will cause a new seating chart for the whole class. A new dynamic and arrangement can help the entire classroom environment.
2. Rearrange my Room or Desks:
Instead of a drastic seating chart, simply rearranging the desks helps the classroom environment reset. Students can find their new seats within the new arrangement with just a smaller shock to the routine.
3. Organize my Desk:
As a Type B teacher, my desk can quickly become a bunch of doom piles--ungraded papers, napkins from five lunches ago, random art supplies with no home, etc. Resetting my desk to allow my mind a sense of calm is one task that helps me greatly. From what I have read and heard, our space mirrors our brains--a chaotic space is a chaotic mind.
4. Clean the Classroom:
As an art teacher who teachers multiple preps, my classroom and systems can become unorganized QUICKLY. Establishing systems for students would greatly help keep my classroom more organized. Finding homes for all of the misplaced art supplies, cleaning off the counters, etc. help create a calmer classroom environment. (Side note: this year, I have 6 preps with various stacked classes, therefore my classroom systems have been ALL over the place.)
5. Reestablish Rules and Expectations:
Towards the end of the semesters, the classroom rules and expectations can become a little lax. When students start to show evidence of being to comfortable with the rules (showing up late consistently, food in the classroom, cell phone use, etc.), I know that it is time for me to review my expectations and rules with the students as well as be aware of my consistency with my own rules and expectations.
6. Weather Check-In with my Students:
As an empath, I can feel when the overall energy of the classroom is low or when students are just "not themselves." When this happens to the majority of the class, I like to conduct weather check-ins with my students. I have used various methods such as restorative circles, anonymous online forms, or the index card "Write down something you would like for me to know." I will have a new post with various weather check techniques soon!
7. Throw in a Creativity Challenge:
As mentioned various times throughout my site, I am a HUGE fan of creativity challenges. When my students are in creative ruts or in "funks" as well, I conduct one class-period challenges. These can be something as simple as doodle challenges or photography challenges.
8. Scrap the Flailing Project/Lesson:
This one is a hard one to decide. Sometimes...lessons just fail. The students aren't quite getting it. You aren't excited about it...OR, it could be a lesson that is usually a success--but maybe not this round. It's okay to scrap lessons and just start something else. It happens. Wave that white flag and move on.
9. Talk it Out with your Teacher Crew:
I HOPE everyone is as lucky as me to have a teacher crew that I can look to for support. For my island teachers out there, you are NOT alone. This method is simply talking it out or venting to a fellow teacher. Many times, they're feeling exactly how I am. This not only helps to feel that you are NOT alone, but it may lead to a brainstorm of how to lead you out of your "funk." Teacher brains can also help with tweaking lessons or new ideas.
10. Self-Reflect and Reevaluate:
I do this method, almost too much. Depending on what is happening (classroom behavior gone awry, lesson not going well, etc.), I always self-reflect upon my own check-list. How am I doing? Did I prepare the students correctly? Did we jump in too quickly to the lesson? Is the classroom a safe space for them?
This is not a task where we take full-responsibility for everyone else, but with our role as running the ship--I think it's important to start with the captain.
While there is no magic button that we can press to make our crazy day-to-day a perfect Smurf world, I hope some of the tips and tricks that I do help you get out of your own "funk." <3