Going into my first year teaching, I just knew that all of my students were going to be successful. Without a doubt and without reservation, I would do absolutely whatever was necessary to teach my kids exactly what they needed to learn to be successful first graders. To that end, I believed that this success was defined by students making good grades. Of course, I wanted all of my students to earn Honor Roll. After all, I’d learned in college that teachers should have high expectations of all students and what was better than making Honor Roll? Then came the setbacks.
After working with my students for some time, I found myself frustrated, disappointed, and discouraged. All of my students were not meeting that ideal of success I had envisioned. But why? Was I that disillusioned? I KNEW my kids could learn, but not all of them were keeping up with the pace needed to make that ideal of success I’d envisioned. I knew that working with children would be challenging, but these were setbacks I was just not expecting. What was I missing?
In the meantime, I worked closely with the members of my grade-level team and asked for feedback and ideas to help my kids. I listened and learned. I observed and put into practice all of the high-impact strategies good teachers use. In other words, I could unequivocally guarantee that I’d used every possible strategy to help my young learners succeed. We had flex groups. There were tear-out groups. We used manipulatives. And we worked on phonics and sight words. However, regardless of instructional strategy used, student engagement method applied, or intervention employed, some of my sweet little kids just weren’t rising to that level of success I’d idealized.
As time passed, I came to realize that I was the problem. Specifically, my ideal for success was the issue at hand. To explain, never would all students making Honor Roll be a realistic goal. Students came to my classroom at all different levels and they all learned at different paces. Therefore, I needed to change my mindset.
How can teachers overcome setbacks?
In reality, it is so important to be a reflective practitioner. You are the most influential factor in your classroom. I’ve got a little resource that I’d love to share with you. It will help when you’re feeling those feelings of frustration, overwhelm, self-doubt, and the like. Setbacks are the pits, for sure! From time to time, all educators go through this blah period. They want to make a difference, but there can be so many obstacles.
With this in mind, taking social emotional learning (SEL) for teachers into consideration is extremely important. In fact, it’s all about mindset. Of course, it is a hard reality knowing that we do not always have the resources necessary to do what we know our students need to be successful. Positive affirmations are a great way to start and end your day. With each statement, say it, know it, and believe it. Snag your free copy of these Positive Affirmations for Teachers from the TeacherMood shop on TPT.
Overcoming Setbacks in the Classroom
Over time, my definition of success changed. What I mean is that I learned to celebrate the small accomplishments right along with the big. For some, making all A’s proved to be their success. For others, barely making a 70 was a HUGE success. And yet for others, success was making a new friend or gaining enough confidence to speak in a whole-group discussion. Furthermore, I came into the realization that success for many was not at all tied to grades. Without a doubt, my students WERE successful every single day.
Find Your Support Staff
I remember speaking with my Academic Coach and telling her how helpful two particular teachers had been in helping me see what was needed for my students. By all means, these two teachers were always so positive and encouraging. Their positivity was definitely catching. When I was feeling like a failure as a teacher, they lifted me up and helped me to see the error in my views. As a result, they are now two of my closest friends. They helped me to realize that each child experiences success in his or her own way. I learned how to celebrate the accomplishments, both big and small, for all of my learners, and quickly realized the importance of doing so!
Positivity is Contagious
Surrounding myself with teachers who were positive made a tremendous difference in the trajectory of my career. Learning how to be a better teacher with these two ladies made me the educator I am today. Now that I am Academic Coach, their influence carries even farther through my work with all teachers at my school. I get to encourage our new teachers much in the same way they helped me when I was in despair. My current work is in helping teachers set goals for their students and planning together to make those goals happen. And, this applies to anything! This could be in classroom management, differentiated instruction, or assessment uses. It could be in making a bulletin board,
What's your role?
As Academic Coach now, one of my roles is to provide professional learning for all teachers in my school. But really, some of the most valuable professional learning comes through peer observations and professional learning communities. I think often about our little teaching trio from way back when and know that our time together still has a major influence in all I do today. My work is a joy. I love my role in helping students and teachers set and meet their goals. We push through, plan for, and overcome the many setbacks in our way. It is hard work, but it is important work.
We Rise by Lifting Others
Isn’t it wonderful how we can inspire one another? I consciously do my best to only surround myself with positive dispositions, and I encourage other educators to do the same. It’s so easy for one negative attitude to bring down a whole team. I try to find the good in every situation, even if it’s not the most ideal. In many ways, we define ourselves in how we respond to the challenges we face. Subsequently, if we complain and drag our feet while focusing on challenges and setbacks, then we will never see good results from our efforts. However, if we dig in and do our best to get the work done, then the positivity will spread.
In closing, I’d like to ask you to consider a few very important questions.
How do you approach challenges?
What do you do when someone is being negative?
How can you inspire others?
I’d love to hear from you. You can connect with me on social media, drop a comment below, or send an email.