Most new teacher training programs include a discussion around the phases of first year teaching. Though this is a crucial conversation in the development and support of new teachers, it is applicable no matter how long you have been an educator. Why am I making this connection? If you are in education or follow educational changes through various media outlets, it is apparent that education is not stagnant. Education policy, instructional programs, technology innovation, content, and clientele are changing at a rapid rate. If you are doing the right work as an educator, you should ALWAYS feel like a new teacher.
The phases of teaching include anticipation, survival, rejuvenation, and reflection before repeating the phases again and again each year. At this point in the year (March) we are leaving disillusionment and embarking on the rejuvenation phase of the school year. It is important as lead learners in the district (administrators and principals) to take note of these phases and support the staff accordingly.
What exactly do we mean when we say “disillusionment”? Disillusionment occurs when the high expectations educators set for themselves this time of year are not fully met. It occurs when student progress stalls or takes less than a straight path to success. Disillusionment happens when the best planned instructional lessons don’t execute as hoped. The work asked of educators is robust and as the novelty of the year wears off, principals may see more referrals to the office, increased absences, disorganization, missed timelines, and lack of engagement just to name a few. As a superintendent or central office administrator, we see priority lists getting longer rather than shorter, communication breakdowns hamper progress, increased concerns elevate from the building level, missed opportunities to build relationships, and wavering in the implementation of monitoring of initiatives.
These examples are just that, examples that can be applied to any district and building across the nation this time of year. What will end up defining districts will be the individual responses of the lead learners in those institutions. How we do this will define our school year, our building and our classrooms. Our approaches can speed up or slow down the progression towards the last two phases. This is not the time to place blame, show frustration, or run and hide. This is the time for us as leaders to stand tall, continue to offer support, foster the engagement, seek out and rely on our trusted colleagues, and walk together toward the times of rejuvenation and reflection.
As an Ohio educator you have weathered the storm of a brutal winter, administered Next Generation Assessments for the first time, taught under new learning standards, worked with parents to understand the changes in Ohio’s education system, and supported students instructionally and socially. Be proud of where you are at this point in time, embrace the rejuvenation that accompanies spring weather and build on the excitement that accompanies the anticipation of planning for another successful year of school. Together we can accomplish so much for the students and community we serve!
Yours in Education,