Are you a resilient educator?

Are you a resilient educator?  How do you respond when things don’t go your way?  This week was challenging for me.  I’ll spare the specifics, but I’m finishing the day wondering where things went wrong this week.  The most alarming part of having a bad day or week is the feeling of losing control.  How can you get that control back?  Here are a few suggestions that might help.  I’m going to try and take my own advice.

Put Your Day or Week in Context

Everyone has their moments.  Was this day or week an anomaly?  Unless you’ve started a new pattern of behavior, next week will be better.  It has to be.

Keep Your Sense of Humor

If you can still laugh at yourself, you’ll be okay.  Humor doesn’t fix everything, but it signals the start of turning your bad mood around.

Re-center Yourself.

Take some time to reflect on what went wrong and why, but don’t get stuck there.  Make a conscious decision to get back on track.  Think of a few strategies that you can use next week to steady the ship.

Face the Music

If your week went wrong due to relationship issues, decide if you need to directly address someone.  Nothing keeps your stomach turning more than unresolved conflict.  Pick the right moment and have a heart-to-heart with those who are connected to your stress.

Get Some Me Time

Do something for yourself.  Go shopping, go for a walk, a run, a bike ride, or just go somewhere!  Time alone helps clear your thinking.  If you’re comfortable being alone with your thoughts you will always have a way to cope with stress.

Get Back on the Horse

Start the new week believing in a fresh start.  Avoidance is a poor strategy for anyone who wants to have a better day.  Hold your head up, smile, and say something positive to the first few people you see.  You’d be surprised how quickly you can build the momentum you need to have a great week!

Educators and school leaders can and should model resilience.  If we want students to respond appropriately to stress, we should show them how.  We don’t have to discuss every detail of our personal lives, but sharing anecdotes that illustrate the times we have overcome stress can help students develop their own strategies.  It’s okay to show your humanity.  Your students will be all the better for it.

Fostering the Standards for Mathematical Practice

Since the adoption of the Common Core Standards, many states have been working to foster math instruction that incorporates the Standards for Mathematical Practice.  These standards are viewed as the key practices that need to be in place in every math classroom, every day:

1.  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

2.  Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

3.  Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

4.  Model with mathematics.

5.  Use appropriate tools strategically.

6.  Attend to precision.

7.  Look for and make use of structure.

8.  Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

The challenge for school leaders and teachers is understanding what these practices look and sound like in the classroom.  What do we have to do in order to foster the Standards for Mathematical Practice?  The following suggestions are gleaned from several sources (see links below) and should encourage a conversation around what effective math instruction looks like:

-Students should be talking with and interacting with each other every day.

-Math should be about real life problems, not isolated skills.

-Students need support and practice in learning how to communicate mathematical ideas.

-Manipulatives and technology should be used when they enhance understanding.

-Assessments should reflect the way math is being taught.

-Strategies to promote the practices should include giving students the answer to questions and asking them to decide what the question is; having students make up problems that meet some pre-determined criteria; and posing “What if?” questions about what might happen if a change is made to the quantity or any other aspect of a given problem.

-Students will need consistent strategies for reading problems and determining what the question is asking.

Practice number one might be our biggest challenge.  How do we get students to persevere in math?  Teachers can support perseverance through modeling and teacher talk.  A combination of practice, scaffolding, and encouragement can build a foundation for the resilience our students will need to meet success in math.

Standards for Mathematical Practice

What Should I Look for in a Math Classroom?

Implementing the Common Core Mathematical Practices