As summer comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on behaviors I’d like to see in my students by the end of the upcoming school year. (Start at the end and work backwards, right?) As I created my list of desired behaviors I began to wonder how many of them I, myself, practiced on a daily basis. Yikes. There is definitely some room for improvement. So, along with setting behavior expectations for my students this year, I plan to set the same behavior expectations for myself. After all, I know that what I do carries a lot more weight with my students than what I say. Here are OUR behavior expectations for the upcoming school year.
Expectation #1: It’s okay, and expected, to make mistakes. Do I take risks in my professional life or am I afraid of failing and looking incompetent in front of my peers? The older I get, the more I realize that it really doesn’t matter what people think about me as long as I’m acting with integrity. BUT, even though I realize it, it does still hurt when I feel judged for not being effective. I work with an awesome staff, but let’s face it, teachers tend to judge each other. Our mistakes seem especially noticeable when it comes to behavior and discipline. It’s hard not to question someone’s ability when you see them escorting a tantruming student down the hallway and the tantrum has continued for about twenty minutes with no sign of letting up. This year I’m going to remind myself that it’s uncomfortable to feel judged and that’s okay. It’s only a feeling and it will pass. Better to try something, fail, reflect on why it didn’t work and learn another lesson. – one of the many lessons we learn when working with living, breathing beings who are trying to think for themselves. And maybe, just maybe, if I feel a bit more comfortable taking risks in spite of the judgment that may come, others will too – both students and peers.
Expectation #2: Be kind to others. Every single teacher I know tells their kids at the beginning of the school year that being nice to their classmates is an expectation. Not only do we say it, we follow through with consequences each time we see our students being unkind to a friend. Am I always kind to my coworkers? Do I greet everyone when passing them in the hallway? I had the pleasure of working part time at a local grocery store this summer. This store has a number of fabulous training tools. One of my favorites is “the ten tile rule.” The rule states that employees must greet every customer and coworker who comes within ten floor tiles of them. What a great principle! Why don’t we practice this in our schools? It helps everyone feel special and keeps us present, aware and mindful of our surroundings. Are there other ways to demonstrate kindness? Eliminating my need to gossip, confronting others who gossip, and refraining from judgment come to mind. And what about telling our coworkers how amazing they are when we see them trying something new, building a relationship with a student or nailing a lesson?
Expectation #3: Try your best. I expect one hundred percent effort from my students but do I also expect it from myself? Or do I sometimes just go through the motions to get my work done? I’m well aware that my biggest fault is my follow through. I have great intentions and ideas but I sometimes lose enthusiasm for projects when they become difficult or I’m short on time. My final expectation for myself is to see all commitments through to the end. If may make me think harder about committing in the first place and that might not be bad either. As teachers we know that high expectations have a significant impact on our students’ success. Just think what those same expectations could do for us.
My hope this year is that modeling these expectations for my students will develop strong character in both them and me. I may even share my personal goals with them during our expectations discussion so they can hold me accountable too. What a great way to show my human side and make our relationship a little bit more authentic.