One of the most amazing things about education is that you can literally start new each year!  New class.  New students.  A fresh beginning.   I always loved brainstorming with colleagues about what and how we would do things differently, how we would refine what worked and fix what didn’t, and how we would make this year, well… better!  It’s such a gift to get to start fresh. This year as you too set out with your new intentions, I encourage you to add one more to your list and maybe even put it at the top … SLOW DOWN.

This slowing down is not about decreasing what you will accomplish or fighting off the expectations put in place in your school or district.  This slowing down is about setting you and your students and staff up for success.  When we slow down we are empowered to think.

Seems everything, ourselves included, is moving so fast!  This often leads us to respond immediately, rush to decisions and then find ourselves struggling to follow through on what we said.  In our classrooms this can nullify our attempts at establishing the strong, healthy, positive student-teacher relationships we know are crucial to learning.  So, how do we establish the trust and respect we know are key components to a classroom that runs smoothly?

First, we must become very mindful of our words and actions.  We know that the greatest trust is established through following through on our every word.  How often do we misspeak?  Or make threats that we can’t (or don’t want to) follow through on?  How often do we put ourselves in bad situations because whatever we said is really inconvenient for us? 

It seems as though we, as educators and parents alike, feel that when something happens we must have the super response within a millisecond!  We must know what to say, quickly, on the spot.  And then, you know what?  Whatever we said, well turns out, it’s not often the best idea.  Very often it’s too harsh, not feasible, illogical or unreasonable.  Often we have reacted rather than actually taken a few seconds to think it through.

In this place of SLOWING DOWN, when we choose to pause and take a breath, we are actually given the space to think, to model cognition (what a novel idea as an educator or parent!) and really decide, not just react to, what we should do and how we should respond so that learning continues and relationships stay intact.

So, when you’re tasked, like you will be over and over again, take a moment:

  • Pause, breathe.
  • Think it through. Ask yourself:  What makes sense here?  What’s reasonable?  What am I willing to do? What am I not willing to do?   What is the lesson?  Is this as big a deal as I’m making it or am I just irritated, hungry or tired?

What matters most is that we follow through.  You might be surprised that going easier on our kids and following through will bring you the respect you’re looking for that builds a strong relationship, inspires teaching and learning, and provides the safe, predictable environment we know supports optimal learning.

So, give yourself and your students a gift- SLOW DOWN.  And remember, too, that when you do rush you can always change your mind, apologize and try again next time.  Surely, surely, you will have a next time.

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