Monday, November 14, 2016

Kids Deserve It! Week 7: Chapters 19-21

When you experience self-doubt, how do you get re-focused on the good work that you're doing and grow from those doubts? Do you take opportunities to "act like a child" in connecting with your students? To borrow one of the authors' questions, "how do you stay focused on kids and on doing what's best for them." Share thoughts on any or all of these questions or comments from other participants or discuss something else that struck you in these chapters.

Next week we will read and discuss chapters 22-24.

74 comments:

  1. When I experience self-doubt, the teachers around me lift me back up and remind me of all that I have done. It really does help to have other teachers around that understand what the daily struggle is like. Without those positive people around me, I don’t know if I would still be a teacher today. Or I guess maybe I would, I would just be a grumpy one! ;)

    I do not act like a child with my students. Part of that is because I teach at the high school level. I spend all day trying to get my students to act maturely. The closest thing I can think of that I’ve done is to have a tea party after reading To Kill a Mockingbird where everyone must come “in character.” (An idea I found online years ago, so I can’t take the credit for it.) It gives them a chance to have some fun while analyzing characters.

    I try to stay focused on what’s important for the students by meeting them where they are at. By that I mean, if they didn’t understand an article I assigned, I throw the grade out the window and we re-read it and discuss it together. If I have a large majority of kids who can’t remember any literary terms, I spend a week teaching them, and scrap what I had originally planned. Sometimes I feel that I need to go back and re-teach the basics that they should have mastered in middle school. As much as I don’t want to, I have to because it’s what is best for them.

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    1. I agree that having positive people around is key to feeling good about being a teacher. I am the same way and I try my best to stay positive!

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  2. I interpreted ‘act like a child’ as doing what rejuvenates me and brings me joy. This varies with the day: reading, being creative in the kitchen, spending time with family and friends, walking/running, or having a relaxing coffee. I am getting better at extracting myself from school problems and recognizing them for what they are. I have mentioned in other weeks that most student scuffles are a result of layers of difficulties students have in multiple areas of life. When I remember to view some of their interactions as struggles to deal their own family, friends, or fitting into the world, I take problems less personally and manage my own mental and emotional capacities better. Rereading Mother Teresa’s poem ‘Anyway’ is a good reminder of my role in coping with a lot of life.

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    1. This makes sense to me. Many of us are so passionate about our work, we forget how to concentrate on other passions. Focusing on hobbies other than education, we may find a new vision in life that can help us connect with the students in a different or more creative way.

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    2. I like to play dress-up and act like a child. My daughters and I often volunteer at Spring Mill State Park Village as village people. We find this fun and very relaxing

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    3. I couldn't agree with you more in "rejuvenating" yourself! It doesn't have to take place in the classroom...but at home too! I also agree with you on how a child acts at school is often due to something that has happened at home.

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    4. I agree with forgetting our other passions besides teaching. It is very rare that I focus on my own art...Not projects. In the up and coming year I would like to start painting again for my own pleasure.

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    5. I love the poem "Anyway" especially the last lines, "You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; It was never between you and them anyway." which I think ring true.

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  3. I agree with Sarah Reed's comment! When I experience self-doubt, the teachers around me, lift me back up too. We're all in this together! I also save thank you notes that I've received over the years from students & parents. It's nice to re-read one to perk me back up.

    I do act like a child alot. Since I teach music K-5, my classroom is basically a stage. I'm on performance all day everyday. I'd like to think that we laugh alot too at some of our silliness (especially K & 1st grade). Getting ready for a music program is probably when we have our most fun. There's props, costumes & dance moves to create.

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    1. I agree, I've learned by opening up and talking to teachers that we each share the same/similar self-doubt issues. By talking with our fellow teachers we can learn, share, and help build each other up during those times of doubt.

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  6. I enjoy acting like a child with my students. For example we made turkeys of what students were thankful for. I have my students arranged in a horse shoe shape and my group table is right in the middle. I sat at the group table and colored my turkey and wrote everything I could think of. I filled the page which wasn't hard. Once students saw me fill the page they stopped asking how many lines they had to fill. They worked hard and quietly on their turkeys. I guarantee if I had given them instructions and went back to my desk, the students would have done the minimum just to tell me they were done as quickly as possible. I got a lot of comments on my coloring and allowed me to share with them how beautiful their turkeys were. Could I have gone to my desk and graded the bazillion papers I need to before midterms? Of course, but I thought it was important for students to see what I was thankful for and be a role model.

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    1. Great idea! What a great example this is of putting the kids first and modeling for them! I struggle with this, always wanting to use my time wisely, cramming something into every minute. Goal: Slow down and make every moment count for the kids. This always brings better rewards for the kids and me.

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    2. At school or at home it is hard to remember the tasks can wait. It is the time with the kids that matter. The getting down on the floor, eye to eye interactions are what really mean the most. Honestly it is hard for me to be silly. I am serious in nature but the kids do love it. I have to be intentional here but friends are good at encouraging me!

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  7. The way I regroup and get back on track is to connect with some of my teacher friends. I can share my concerns with my family and non-teacher friends but it is not the same. I have a couple of really sincere teacher friends that understand what the other is experiencing. We are always there to talk whether on the phone or arrange to get together. I feel it is vital in this profession to have a network of friends to share our various day to day happenings.
    Another way I regroup is to “act like a child” for example today in class I was trying to explain to a 1st grader about why a vowel sound was short and not saying its long sound name, which I then went into a little dance and sang a little song being silly but making my point. The child smiled and joined in with me. Another day I was squatting down then popping up representing upper and lower case letters. I also sit on the floor with both my older and younger students to play educational board games once a week. You would be surprised how many of our students never get to play games at home. These activities are fun and I think they show my students that I enjoy spending time with them.

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    1. I think the students enjoy it when take time to be silly. Sometimes they want to take it too far, but if you reel it back in, those moments stick with them1

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    2. I also connect with my teacher friends when I'm feeling discouraged. They truly understand what it feels like to be in that position. I also think it's just as important to share the "wins" and joys of teaching on a regular basis. I believe that a positive outlook and focusing on the good things is so important!

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  8. I agree that it is important to act silly in front of our students. This silliness teaches our students that there is a time and a place for this type of behavior. This behavior also shows our students that we are human and do not take ourselves so seriously all the time.

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    1. I love Homecoming Week at my high school. The silliness comes out in our dress up days. The kids look forward to seeing my outfits, crazy as they may be. Human too, teachers are!

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  9. In response to how I get refocused, I have really appreciated my PLN on Twitter. 5 minutes of my time on Twitter can get me believing in education again on those days that I feel let down or crushed. I appreciated the quote in this book "Change and growth take time and lots of hard work. We need to continue to work hard and celebrate the successes while building on the failures."

    How do I act like a child? This is something that I can work on to grow. I am thinking that taking time our of my structured class time to let them talk about any topic of their choice could be a small step. I do love their excitement on topics I would not typically talk about. I will read back on your comments for other ideas. I quote the book again, "They know they can change the world. And they will - when we either get out of their way or join them on their journey."

    Chapter 21 really made me think in why I am transforming my classroom to one that is student led. How can I make my classroom the one that the students want to come to everyday. "How can I leave my mark" so that they are more willing to leave theirs in the world? Breaking down the walls of conforming and letting them have more voice and choice is just one step in my journey of change for the benefit of my students.

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  10. When I have self-doubt, I talked to some trusted teacher friends. They usually can encourage me to keep on doing my best. My father is a 42 year retired educator. He's 42 years of wisdom are often A source of comfort when school is hard.

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    1. I understand you! I have an 86 year old Aunt who is a retired English teacher of 45 years and world traveler who is still my go to when things get out of sync.

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  11. My mantra for the year is focused on self-doubt. I took a new role (out of the classroom) last year. Doing something new is scary, and I had many moments of self-doubt. As part of my evaluation last year, our curriculum director shared that she gives herself a goal/mantra that is different each year to focus herself. She passed on the idea to me, and I now have a mantra to focus my year. My mantra this year is "no second guessing." This is a challenge to myself to try so hard and to put so much effort and research into everything that I do- to think things through and reflect on decisions so that at the end of the day, I don't have to "second guess" myself, but I know that I can be confident in my actions. This does not mean that I can't grow and reflect, but that I don't waste any time beating myself up.

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    1. Thanks for sharing the goal/mantra tip! This is why I love taking part in any type of PLN opportunities. We always learn something from others to help each other grow.

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    2. I like your idea of a goal. I set one every year. This year I found myself struggling to keep focused on it with everything else going on around me. How do you keep your focus or remind yourself?

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  12. When I am experiencing self doubt I often turn to co-workers or family to help put me back on track. I also look at why I am having that doubt and self-reflect. Maybe something I am doing needs tweaking. Then...I take a huge breath and look around...are my students happy and engaged...if so then I am on track!

    As another writer posted...the importance of rejuvenating yourself doesn't necessarily have to occur in the classroom...but it can be through other interests and hobbies. I know that if I feel positive about how I am feeling it reflects in what I am doing.

    I love the idea and think it is incredibly important to connect school with the community! Involve everyone in the children's education...teacher others to believe in them as much as we do.

    As I have said in many years of teaching...teaching in many different districts and states I have found that a school may look great on paper...but it doesn't always mean it is a great school. One of the best "on-paper" schools was one of the worst I taught at. It got lost on what was important for the learners...they taught to a test. And when my scores didn't measure up I was scolded. They tested these kids weekly/daily and it made me sick. I watch 6-7 year-olds cry because they didn't feel smart enough and they didn't want to make mistakes. It was terrible. But when I worked at a title school...teachers needs were met, we were taught how to teach, how to help the students, and to listen to them. I and the students felt full-filled each and everyday. So It really struck home when I read, "I got lost in the scores and judged my entire year by one day of testing" I feel that many schools do this...we aren't meeting the true needs of the teacher or the children.

    In the question how to act like a child...I am silly each and every day! I eat the play-doh pancakes they bring me, and pretend to sip fake juice! We play ball and dance...I even act like the super hero. The power of laughter brings joy to learning!

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  13. When I start to experience self doubt in my role as principal, I do one of two things. I either go spend time with some of my best teachers to get input, or I go spend time with the students. The students will always be honest with you, if only in their actions.
    It always seems when I am at the times I am doubting myself the most I will get some kind of reassurance from someone that will let me know we are on the right track. It may be a comment, an email, or a phone call, but it always seems to come through. Reading a book like Kids Deserve It helps as well. While I was able to get plenty from the book, there are also certain parts of it we are already doing, and for me that was a great reassurance that we are on the right path.

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  14. It's been a rough week, anyone think so, maybe the moon?
    When I doubt, I listen. I listen to my students. I listen to their conversations, I listen to their actions and their stories, their questions.
    I listen.
    It's short and sweet. But listening to the kids and the way they talk to others, the way they look after their peers, the way they use the words we've practiced.
    I listen. I've had some to do with that, I'm proud of them. I have to listen when I doubt! It helps!

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    1. Agreed! The full moon must be to blame haha! Also, the week before Thanksgiving break always seems hectic.

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  15. When I experience self-doubt, which is more often than I like, I pray. This calms me and helps me refocus and realize how blessed I am. I also talk to my husband, he always reminds me of all the positive, builds my confidence, and encourages me to try new things. When I do experience these times of doubt I've learned to slow down and listen better. If I don't, I've found that my mind races at all my "to do" list items and this always leads me down a stressful path. Listening and serving others always reminds me of my mission, KIDS!
    As far as "acting like a kid", I try to be fun and act silly at times. The kids really need to see that side of their teacher. I really think this helps them connect, bond, and relate to me as a teacher.

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  16. Having a husband who is also a teacher, and in my same building, helps me when I have self-doubt. He often reminds me what I do and builds me up when I need it.
    As I read about getting on the floor and at kids' levels, I could connect to that tremendously. I often allow students to sit where they choose when working independently. Many choose the floor, and when I interact with them, I sit right down on the floor next to them.

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  17. My favorite part of these three chapters was found in chapter 21. I really enjoyed reading Adam's thoughts on going through the ups and downs of the job. There have been times when I have thought about leaving education and exploring a new endeavor, but like Adam mentioned, that thought quickly fades. There are days were I am very frustrated with what will be happening in my classroom, or feeling too much pressure from what is expected of me from my administration. I sometimes think maybe I would enjoy another occupation, but I quickly realize education is where I belong. I don't want to leave the job to someone else. I truly believe this job is meant for me and I hope I always remember that because I am sure that there will be more times in my career that I am ready to look for something else, until it too passes!

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    1. I enjoyed chapter 21, also. I have thought about leaving education, but like you said, I can't leave my kids to someone else! I work with great teachers, and when they switch from me to another, I think, "But they don't know them like I do!" While us teachers probably don't get as much recognition as other professions, the thanks and recognition that we do get is such a big, fulfilling experience. We make differences unlike any other profession. Being "in the trenches" on a daily basis can be exhausting, but those good days fill our cup so much more than the bad ones can drain it.

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  18. When in self doubt I seek out other teachers either co-workers or teachers that I have taught with at another school. I also many times think about why I got into education and try and forget all the crazy amount of paper work and other things we are asked to do. If all that fails I wait for fall or spring break and go to Disney World!!!

    How to not act like a child? I work really hard not to forget what it was like to be a student. I am very much like a child in many ways and act pretty goofy most times I do really like teaching history!!!

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    1. Good for you...being goofy probably helps the kids learn history!

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  19. I struggle with self doubt a lot. The good thing is I have a wonderful best friend, and mentor who teaches across the hall from the that constantly reminds me to look at what I've done, how far the kids have come, and helps me to focus on what really matters and not sweat the little things. I have no problem acting like a kid all the time! I am silly in my class all the time and try to get the kids to see how fun art can be. I like to rotate around and sit with the kids on a regular basis and do art with them. It is so sweet to get in interact with them and listen to their conversations and learn about them as a person.

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    1. Mrs. Milligan-I have recently talked to you about the art I have seen on your website, and also about flipping a classroom, and I remember thinking how innovative your activities really are- I felt inspired to try new things in my own classroom.

      I wonder if we are sometimes more critical of ourselves than we would be of others? I find that the best teachers are often the most critical of their own accomplishments!

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  20. Self-doubt and teaching seem to go hand-in-hand. I'm not sure there is another career choice where you go home and say, "Man....am I doing enough?" or "Could I just connect with one more student" or "Did I get my point across today...?" Or the inevitable when you give a test and everyone bombs it, "man...I didn't do a good job with this". The self-doubt never ends! When I really am feeling down venting to a teacher friend (let's face it, they get it more than non-teacher friends) or doing some self reflection on what's going RIGHT keeps me in check.
    "Acting like a child"....this seems different. I do sometimes teach like my 'pants are on fire' just to get a reaction but like many of you have referenced, letting students see you laugh and smile and be silly are important! Because I teach child development there are many times I have students think like a small child and we discuss small children frequently. I do some simulations that have them acting like small children but I don't always join in. Because I teach high school, acting like a child I doubt would get my point across.

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    1. Wow! I can relate to every single sentence that you wrote. You are absolutely correct in that people outside our profession do not have the same sorrows, and I have found that they really don't want to hear about ours. So, teacher friends become the best friends for lots of reasons. The more I look around, however, the more I see that every profession probably has its downsides: I try to remember that when I am at a 'low'. (By the way, I am on a two-hour delay today...not only relishing two extra hours but realizing no one else out there in the working world has this little perk:)

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  21. I try to forgive and forget and move on when things become unbalanced. Sometimes the kids are the reason for the doubt, sometimes it is me, and sometimes it is the schedule of the day or days that create havoc. (Trying to balance a special assembly with a fog delay and a guest instructor for CPR training for the students)ARG!!! Moving on takes a while depending on the stress level. Prayer helps, which I can do publicly at my school. Time and problem solving with others helps.

    Allowing time to rejuvenate helps reduce stress. Bike rides, concerts, watching my sons play their sports, or listen to them play music usually helps re-channel the frustration. Disney sounds nice too as someone earlier mentioned. Vacations away from school to do other things allows for the refocus, reorganization, planning too.

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    1. I agree with you Pamela, you have to take time for yourself to do what you enjoy to de-stress. Some days are more stressful than others for sure, and learning how to deal with the stress and not bring it home with me is something that took me a couple of years to learn.

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    2. You're right, Sarah! Finding time to decompress from those bad days are so important. I took a lot of the problems home with me in the beginning, too. It's hard to turn it all off once the bell rings, grading is kinda caught up, and we head home.

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  22. When I experience self doubt I always start by going to my co-workers. They are so supportive and do a great job of helping me get back on a positive track. My husband is my second stop who helps me to get back in the positive mindset and pointing out the good things I've done.
    I can't say I necessarily act like a child in my middle school classroom but when we're doing fun hands on projects I like to walk around and interact with them. Same when we're doing labs in the kitchen. When we have time to do review games I like to play with them (Kahoot, quizlet) and offer bonus points if they can beat me. At the end of the first semester I like to have a baking contest where they bring things in from home and everyone always has a great time on that day.

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    1. There is also a game called Quizziz...it's like Kahoot. The kids enjoy it also.

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  23. In the text the major point that kept standing out to me was about how everything we do should be for our students. Our schools, lessons, and curriculum should be centered around them, and as teachers, our self-doubt may come from students, as Pamela stated above. This complicates our already complicated professions. What seems to help me get through it is writing. I write about why I'm having this moment, day, week, or month of self-doubt. What is bothering me, either in teaching or in my personal life, that is causing me to experience this? When I take the time to write and reflect on this, usually areas that I can improve are made clear to me. Sometimes it is "reteaching" a previously taught lesson that may have "flopped". Sometimes it's having a "real" conversation with students and/or colleagues about these feelings.
    Being a student for a class period, sitting among my students, reading when they read, writing when they are completing an essay over a writing prompt I've given, and letting a student write on the board while I sit and watch have all been areas that have helped me to stay young at heart as a student and have also seemed to help me be more approachable and relatable to students. I enjoyed the example from the text about the Roadrunner costume. It's very important to stay relatable and "silly" to students. It can be scary to step out of my comfort zone, but it is clearly worth it.

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  24. The kids love it when you are silly at work. Any day where you can wear a silly hat, dress up shirt or something interesting will help keep their attention. Preschool environments tend to excel in this area. Teachers will wear anything if they can wear jeans! As for burnout, I think it is important to have friends outside of the education profession. When educators get together outside of school we end up talking about something at school, proposed education laws, current PD trends, etc. If you have a friend outside of the education profession you tend to talk about other things. This can be very refreshing. Best quote of the book so far - "Schools do not exist so adults can have jobs."

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    1. I agree! That quote stuck with me as well!

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  25. When experiencing self doubt (which is often)the team of teachers I work with really help me to refocus. I have a very supportive group of teachers that understand what we do everyday and can always offer suggestions that are meaningful and beneficial. They are helpful when I run ideas or problems past them, they always have some kind of input. I also remind myself of the age of the students and all they are dealing with everyday.(I teach middle school) School can be very stressful for them.

    I stay focused on the kids by slowing down and dealing with each child individually. Sometimes I get caught up with time, getting started, getting the kids on task and keeping them focused that I may miss special opportunities with the students. I have to remind myself why I am doing what I am doing. I chose to do this because I enjoy being around kids and trying to make them better individuals. I really think the students appreciate it when we take time with them.

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  26. Self-doubt. We all have it from time to time. Honestly I find that getting a good night’s sleep helps me have a better outlook on things in the morning. I do yoga with the focus of “letting go” so I don’t carry my doubts and upsets with me. I spend time with my cat, who is so full of joy and always makes me feel better. I read notes students have given me from over the years (yes, I keep them). Besides that, I have friends and family I can confide in about how I feel, and they help to remind me of good work I have done. I need them to build me back up sometimes. It’s nice to have a spouse who knows what teaching is like from his own experience so my tales of woe are not alien to him. Then I start every day as a fresh slate. No point in carrying self-doubt around too long.


    I teach high school and I never want to lose my childlike enthusiasm. I love to “act like a child” in connecting with my students. I am not afraid of being a bit silly. These days I sing, I rhyme, I laugh at myself, I laugh with the kids, I balance on one foot, I jump rope, I wear gimmicky T-shirts, I become a tree, I tell stories, I imitate swimming, I act, I dance, I recite poetry, I do voices, I sing songs… not every day, mind you, but when the situation seems to call for it. (Yes, once the situation called for me being a tree.) I think it’s important to show that I am having a good time with my subject, and maybe my students will enjoy, well, if not my subject, then at least not have a bad time with me. I try to model having a good time doing my subject, which is what I hope they learn to do.

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    1. So true, Lauren, that modeling joy in our subject area and enthusiasm for learning is important. Anything we can do to make things come alive for our students will help kindle in them that fire for learning. Kids wanting to learn is really motivating to me during times of self-doubt. I try to step back and look at the big picture, which I see as creating an atmosphere where kids develop/sustain an attitude of lifelong learning. In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter if kids aren't learning the use of the pluperfect subjunctive in a conditional clause? Probably not, although it pains me to say it! What's really important and rejuvenating is seeing them learn the analytical and critical thinking skills that will help them adapt to changing situations throughout their lives.

      It also helps that I have a caring and supportive network of other teachers around me. They're always there on days when I'm shaking my head and wondering if I'm accomplishing any short or long term goals with my students.

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  27. To reassure myself that I am doing positive things for my students after a bad day, I just go to my friends and they help me through the situation. One bad lesson does not make me a bad teacher. Them just listening to me helps so much.
    I take every opportunity to act like a child which involves playing the game with them. They love to get the chance to hit the teacher or to win against me. It makes their day as well as mine.

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  28. I have sometimes allowed others to make me feel less than good about what I am doing in the classroom. This has never resulted in a positive outcome for me or my students. In fact, negative input has only distracted from the gains that we could be making. I have learned to take a close look at who and why someone might be attempting to instill feelings of doubt in others, and it has been very revealing. Debby Downer is funny on television, but in real life, she has no redeeming value.

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    1. I have it very helpful to surround myself with positive like minded teachers. The Debbie Dowers have got to go!

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  29. I have been very lucky to have a great teaching mentor to work with in my grade level the past three years. Any time that I have had doubts about myself as a teacher, she has been there to help me talk it through and guide me towards a better understanding of what I need and how to help my students. My first year in the classroom went very well, so well in fact, the principal asked me to teach a 3/4 split the second year. That was a very trying time for me. Not only was I doing double duty, the students themselves were a more difficult group to deal with. I had a lot of self doubt that year, but I kept telling myself that I could survive and that those students needed me. Sometimes I think the best thing is to step back and take time for myself. I think as educators, we put our all into our work and we forget we need time to reboot, not only for ourselves, but for the students as well. Taking the time at night, over the weekend, and over breaks helped me relax and come back to school to change my mindset.

    I try to take time to "act like a child" with my students, at the appropriate times. They love it when I play games with them at recess and to make silly jokes in the classroom. I think those are probably their fondest memories and what they will remember the most from our time together.

    There is a quote I see on Facebook all of the time about nodding your head yes, then shutting the door and doing what is best for your students. I am lucky enough to work with an administrator that will let us do just that. She knows that we have the best intentions for our students and we want them to succeed. If the students need a five minute break, then that's what I give them. If the students need an interactive learning experience to help them understand a concept better, that is what we do. It makes me disheartened to hear teachers tell their class, if you see a problem like this on ISTEP....that is not the type of teacher I am or want to be, I want my students to enjoy being in our classroom and to want to be there every day.

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    1. Having a mentor teacher is so important those first few years. Having someone you can bounce ideas off of, and who fully supports you and will help you with any struggles. I feel that some school corporations got away from doing that with our new evaluation systems, and I wish more principals would assign mentor teachers with new teachers. It's something that's needed!

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  30. When I have self-doubt I honestly try to pray first. Then I will talk with my husband who always builds me up and I talk with my amazing colleagues. I feel blessed to have people in my life that go through the same things and remind me why I teach. Some days/weeks are harder than others and talking with others through this always helps.
    I love "acting like a child" with my students. I feel that is one of the many reasons why I love teaching preschool. I get to dance, be goofy, and play most of the day. I get down and play with them during free play and I try to make my lessons fun so the students don't even realizing they are learning.

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  31. When I experience self-doubt, I turn to my drawer of "why do I teach?" I keep letters and notes from students, parents, and other teachers. It lifts me up to see that I have touched some lives, and kids have left with an appreciation of Spanish.
    Every career will have days of doubt, but we really take them hard, as these are people's kids that we are working with, shaping, educating, and sometimes parenting.
    Other days, we need to step away from the serious and just have fun for a bit....I'll add in a song activity, or part of a Disney movie.
    There are says that the kids leave class, and I know that I've inspired and made connections with the material. There are other days when they leave, I look at my board, and wonder what happened! Then I start over the next day, and it's OK. That's what we need to remember....it will be OK. We all have struggles, but so many more triumphs.

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    1. I also keep letters and notes from former students. It's the little things that remind me that teaching has been one of the greatest parts of my life. Even on the rough days, a small reminder of what I have done... can lift me right back up.

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  32. When I'm feeling discouraged, I go and speak with fellow veteran teachers. They always have words of encouragement and advice. I also think about all of the wonderful things about teaching and being able to be a part of my students' lives. I have a scrapbook in which I keep notes and cards from my students, which is the best thing to look through to remind me why I teach.

    I think it's so important to not be "all business" all of the time with my students. I learned this lesson after my first year of teaching. My first year, I was so focused on getting things accomplished in the classroom, teaching the standards, etc, that I didn't really enjoy my job. I think it's important to have some fun...for both the students and the teachers. There are so many ways to incorporate fun ideas into creative lesson plans.

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  33. A time when self-doubt creeps in is when I feel pressure from the school district to implement new technology pieces. It can be an overwhelming feeling as I put pressure on myself to use it immediately with my students. This can be exhausting and absorbs much of the energy that I usually use with my students. Collaborating with teacher friends and reassuring myself that I'm not expected to know everything right away is helpful. I usually pick one technology piece at a time and try to learn it proficiently enough to implement it into my classroom.
    The idea of "acting like a child" is not something I struggle with. I totally agree that it is a great way to keep life and the school day in perspective. An example of this is in my Health class during review games. I try to jump in at times and challenge kids in the game.
    Out side of school, I am rejuvenated by running, playing tennis and spending time with my family. This balance keeps life in perspective.

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  34. When I experience self-doubt, I usually think of all the students that I have taught and how many of them continued their study of Spanish. I know that I have touched many lives in a positive way. Every once in awhile, I get a few students that really aren’t interested at all in learning Spanish. These students make me into a self-doubter but I reach out to colleagues and administrators to discuss the issues.
    As a Spanish teacher, class time is play time. Students enjoy when I join the games and compete against them…they love to beat me! Sometimes silliness is a must…but most students know when enough is enough. I love to laugh and have a good time with my students…it makes the day go so quickly.
    I try to stay focused on what is best for my students. I do my best to teach them the skills that they will need to be successful in their lives. We get to that point by doing what works well with the group…it may not be the newest technique…but if it gets the job done, then I have done my job.

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  35. When I experience self-doubt, I often seek support from fellow teachers. I have a great team of teachers to go to. We can vent to one another, empathize with one another, support one another and sometimes the best- is to laugh with one another!!! Finding humor in situations and laughing can be a great stress reliever!

    Sometimes I also look at notes students have written to me. I save them all. Right before writing my response I looked at my school email. A student I had last year who is a freshman now, sent me an email wishing me a happy birthday among other confirming comments. Reading these notes and emails reminds me to keep listening, keep working to connect with my students. After all, I believe that is the most important part of my job.

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  36. When I experience self doubt I try to focus on things that have worked in the past and get back to those things. As many others have said here, other teachers and friends can really help to get you back on track. For me that is often coaches that I coach with. They are great to express ideas and share thoughts with and how they think the kids or other people in the school system will respond to those ideas.
    As far as acting like a child, we have fun friday at the end of the week for our team of students. We often go to the gym or do an activity with them. I often join in the game and play with the kids. This is a great way to let them see me in a different atmosphere and we laugh and have a good time. I enjoy this time as well.

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  37. When I experience self-doubt I am able to refocus by simply facing my fear and trying a sampling of what I would like to have happen in order to get a natural response from the kids. I usually have a smaller class in one of my hours that I may try something new that I doubt will be effective but interesting enough to give it a shot. The kids natural reaction is often the best indicator of whether it will be something useful in my larger classes. I let them know first that we are going to try something new and get a little feedback from them to draw them in. Often times I will play the sympathy card saying, "I'm not sure if this will work but we will try it anyways." For some reason it turns them into people pleasers and they work hard to give the idea their best shot.
    Although I keep in mind that I must have control of the classroom and ultimately assume responsibility for the happenings there, I do take every opportunity to "act like a child." I am not a PE teacher who sits on the sideline and critiques for long. I enjoy playing the games with them and watching natural talents shine from the kids especially when they had no idea they are so capable. You can make a kids year by giving them a compliment they have never received. Also, who doesn't want the chance to beat their gym teacher at any given sport? Bragging rights are everything to middle schoolers and high schoolers!
    Honestly, I do not struggling keeping my focus on what's best for the kids because I care so immensely for each of them. I come from a tough background I tend to see things that others who grew up more privileged may not see. I treat the kids with respect and they know that they can come to me with anything and I will do my best to help them.

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  38. When I experience self-doubt, I turn to some trusted teacher friends and share some of my feelings. Basically I vent, and usually I am able to get a new perspective. I also like to follow some people I respect on Twitter. I love to get new ideas and come away rejuvenated.
    As a parent, I am vested in what I do. I want my children's teachers doing the best for them so I feel the pressure to do the same. I am passionate about education. I grew up in an educator's household. I see the value to what I do, but there are those times a parent hits a nerve with a mean email or a student is completely disrespectful or I feel like I'm failing my own kids because my job takes so much more time. These are the days that my teacher friends and honestly, my mom, help me pull up my "big girl pants" and muster through.

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  39. When I have self-doubt, I usually go to my co-workers. I have a couple of really good "work friends." We listen to each other's complaints as well as celebrate each other's triumphs. I also find that spending time with students during the day is uplifting. Kids are so funny- after only a few minutes of listening to their "high school drama" I realize that life as an adult is not so bad!

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  40. When I experience self-doubt, I will talk with my colleagues and get a fresh perspective on the situation. Normally, I will then try to adapt my normal routine and integrate in something more exciting and engaging to throw off the normal routine. This normally helps give me a boost of energy and a reassurance that things are going to be just fine!

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  41. I don't get caught up in teaching curriculum. I am more concerned with the personal needs of my students than worrying about what grade they get on a test. I often take time to connect with my students whether it be talking about sports, movies, music, video games, or their extra-curricular activities. I often get the time to do this during my lunch duty daily, and in the halls during passing periods.

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  42. I like to talk to my teaching colleagues when I experience self-doubt. It is always refreshing to hear another teacher's perspective whether it is in agreement with mine or not. It not only allows me to talk through whatever is on my mind, but it often gives me a fresh perspective or another idea to consider. I once had a close colleague tell me that if I am doing what is right for kids, I am doing a good job. I also try to keep that perspective in mind whenever I feel overwhelmed or am questioning whether I am doing a good job.

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  43. I refocus by having a nice long talk with a trusted co-worker. Having those trusted individuals within the building is like having an on call therapist at your beck and call - priceless. I feel this gives me the outlet to let it all out and the encouragement needed to pick myself back up.
    Taking a break from the routine teaching is a great mind break for teachers and students. I still like to make it a learning experience so I try to have a field trip or educational movie that ties to a topic or theme or a book we working with in class.
    Sometimes just sitting back and refocusing is what is best for students. If I am having a problem in the classroom, I will take some time to think before I react. I have also revisited some strategies when dealing with difficult students like the 2x2 or making a positive phone call home.

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  44. This one is pretty easy for me. I teach a high school class that works in our on-site preschool. Because of this, I get to go spend with the four year old preschoolers. Nothing helps you refocus like seeing school through the eyes of a preschooler! After a few minutes with them, I am ready to face the high school again. The innocence they have the the thirst for learning is contagious. I love it! Whenever I need a "break", I know exactly where to head!

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  45. When I experience self-doubt, I often turn to my colleagues. More often than not, I turn specifically to my classroom paraprofessional who I am fortunate enough to have. Since she is with my same group of kids just as much as I am, she offers valuable insights for me on a number of topics. If there are things that I doubt about my approach to a topic or how I handled a situation, I ask for her honest opinion. I know that I will get it. She may ask for additional information that I had not considered, which is helpful, or she may offer alternative suggestions.


    Getting re-focused after this self-doubt usually is not too difficult for me, but it depends on the situation. If the self-doubt is related to an administrator-related relationship, it’s more difficult for me to get re-focused. However, it’s more easy for me to get re-focused and grow/learn after I’ve talked it out with another adult when the situation involves a student.


    I LOVE to take opportunities to “act like a child”! My students sometimes think I’m crazy for doing it, but it’s one way that I connect with them! When it comes time for fun activities, like our incentive days that our kids earn for good behavior, we teachers try really hard to get involved as well and to have just as much fun as them. For example, we are going bowling in about a week or so. We teachers like to bowl alongside the kids. While we may not be the best, we like to have just as much fun as the kids, and the kids like to watch their teachers do some of the silly things the kids do when they celebrate. It’s a lot of fun for everyone.

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  46. With any job there are many ups and downs. This year I feel there have been more than most. Some lessons are amazing and go as planned, while others are flops. Regardless of the outcome of the lesson, I always evaluate to see what I could improve on. It is easy to self doubt when a lesson does not go as I had planned. There are time when I have to laugh so I don’t cry. I believe students need to see teacher problem solving for the errors. With my class, I will work through questioning strategies to problem solve on how to make something better. In teaching FACS, I feel I have the opportunity to show students that when people make mistakes life is not over. Like using a recipe that doesn’t turn out, I don’t throw it away, but look for opportunity to make it better. It might involve stopping and regrouping, but there is life after a mistake.

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