Overcoming the Teacher Chart of Doom

Boy Reading the holy bible

“If everything was perfect, we would already be in heaven.”

A new school year brings anticipation, excitement, and renewal. For many teachers, the first day of school is one of their favorite days of the entire year. When the first day adrenaline begins to wear, the real school year kicks in. The year often brings various highs and lows but generally it follows a fairly consistent pattern.

 phases of teaching 2

That pattern is displayed in the above graph. While a generalization, and therefore not perfect, much research has been developed by the New Teacher Center for this chart. Furthermore, while the graph is intended for the use of new teachers, it can also be used as a characterization throughout all levels of teaching experience.

Therefore, it is important for all teachers to be familiar with the pattern, to better prepare themselves for the year ahead.

One major area that jumps out at many educators who see this graph for the first time is the drastic dip that takes place in the fall and winter months. I think this could be even more indicative in our WELS setting as we prepare for the rigors of the Christmas service.

Now we don’t circulate this graph to cause depression, quite the opposite. If an educator understands that certain times of the year may be more challenging than others, they can better prepare themselves for the potential hurdles that lay ahead.

I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to assume this same pattern could apply to our students and their parents as well. Through years of experience, I have often found issues coming up in the months of January and February. Maybe some of you can attest to the same thing.

So the big question, how can we better prepare ourselves? After gathering feedback from other educators, I have a few, simple ideas to help keep you on track through the highs and lows of the school year.

Stay strong in His Word

Educator after educator stated this was the most important, I have to agree. Ultimately, He will always be there for us. He will never give us more than we can handle. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, He has called us to the unique settings and situations in which we serve. Mr. Jerome Wolff stated that during he worst times of the year he would find himself writing his own devotions. What a wonderful idea to keep our feet firmly planted in the reassuring message of the Gospel.

Stay Healthy/Make Time for Yourself

Several educators stated that staying healthy was near the top of their list. Getting a good amount of sleep, eating well, and exercise are all part of living a healthy lifestyle.

Perhaps the bigger idea is to make sure you allow time for yourself. Educators can get so bogged down in the day to day rigors of school. Mrs. Rachel Pierson commented that it is vital to carve out a hobby outside of school. This hobby can be anything. We must always remember that we also need time to ourselves. I realize this is much easier said than done. However, big picture is the healthier we are, the healthier our class will be.

My Corny Bad Day File

In my file cabinet in the office, I literally have a “Bad Day File.” This file is there for my worst of days when I knew I blew it, or things just did not go as planned. What is this file filled with? Notes from past students, cards from family and friends, a bible verse, etc. While corny, sometimes it is great just being able to pull that out and look through those reminders when everything else seems to be going the wrong direction.

Keep the Bigger Picture in Mind

Mrs. Brittany Trimmer added that it is important to keep in mind why we do what we do. At the end of the day, we have the incredible opportunity to share God’s Word with the children that He placed before us. Wow. Does it get any better than that?

Ms. Jodi Gilbert also reminded of that bigger picture with a bible passage, Isaiah 40:31. “But those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

Mrs. Brenda Wagenknecht did a perfect job of summing up the Teacher Chart of Doom. Brenda commented, “I think just having the chart would have been nice when I first started teaching. Knowing and going through a schedule and routine gives its own kind of comfort and security. It is like seasons . . . there are positives and negative aspects of every season and it helps to think about the approaching season and what you are looking forward to.”

I would like to thank all the folks who helped out with this article by sharing their thoughts…your support is appreciated!


FEEDBACK NEEDED: How Do You Overcome the Teacher Chart of Doom?

phases of teaching 2

Many of you may already be familiar with the above chart. After thorough research, the chart displays the general phases of emotion throughout the school year. While a generalization, it strikes a cord with many teachers.

I am considering doing a future blog post on this chart, but I need your feedback to help with my research.

How do you overcome the tough times displayed in this chart? Obviously, there are many difficult times we, as teachers, face throughout each school year. Furthermore, while every school year is most certainly different, many educators can attest to the ups and down that we experience throughout the course of an average year. On a side note, perhaps a topic for another time, is there even such a thing as, “an average year?”

Please leave your feedback via a comment on what gets you through the down times of teaching. We can be a resource for one another, so as we prepare for another school year we can be prepared as possible.

As WELS educators, our greatest benefit is staying connected and strong in His Word. Do you have ideas to help keep our focus on the Word throughout the year?

Please include thoughts on staying strong in Him and/or other ideas that help your through those tough months.

The Latest Brain Research and What it Means for Education

Brain research is invaluable.  It gives parents and educators an insight of not only how we learn, but an even greater insight into how the children, whom we are serving, learn.  It is imperative that educators stay informed on the latest findings so they can implement needed changes in their classroom and teaching philosophy.  

The following findings come from the iNACOL paper Cracking the Code: Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-Based Learning.  Mind, Brain, and Education is the first in a nine paper series from JFF called Students at the Center.

The following are a few of the key findings in their research.

Students’ brains continually adapt to the environments where they live and work…

Surroundings matter.  The climate and culture of your school and your individual classroom is paramount in the education of that child.  Therefore, if we provide a safe, caring environment a student’s brain will learn to trust and thrive in that environment.  

Emotions direct students’ learning processes, helping them gravitate toward positive situations and away from negative ones…

Emotions matter.  We are not only teaching the mind, we are teaching the heart.  A student must be emotionally stable for a positive learning outcome to appear.

When students from disadvantaged backgrounds are in high-quality schools, their cortisol levels decrease throughout the day.  The better the school, the more the cortisol levels decrease… 

Schools and Structure matter.  A quality learning environment can help students reach healthy coritsol levels, which lead to better emotional regulation and more favorable learning outcomes.  Disadvantaged students can thrive, they however must be in a quality setting to have that chance to succeed.    

Environments that promote positive relationships and a sense of community promote learning…

Relationships matter.  It makes sense doesn’t it?  If a student has a positive relationship with their teacher, that is more likely to have a positive effect on their education as a whole.  Principals and teachers should focus on building positive relationships with their students.  When positive relationships are coupled with a favorable school culture and climate, the student has the environment and surroundings to thrive.

So what is the big picture?

Physical and emotional wellness matter in education.  The way we foster positive physical and emotional wellness is by building relationships, providing a positive culture and climate, and imparting structure in all that we do.  Physical and emotional wellness has already been a growing trend within education that past decade.  These findings show us the reason for that, and provide us with the evidence that we need to take to heart.  

How is your school, your classroom, your home going to strengthen the physical and emotional wellness of the children you serve?