Feeling Overwhelmed?

Teachers on a daily basis are bombarded with a constant flow of ‘things’ they feel should be doing in the classroom through workshops, professional readings, staff meetings, administration, and fellow teachers.

When they learn or hear about a new theory, strategy, or concept they are not using or teaching in ‘their’ classroom, a panic alarm goes off inside.  This alarm goes off inside all teachers, new and experienced.

Why is this?

This happens because teachers want to provide their students with the best education they can while they have them in their classrooms.  They want to become the best they can be.

Teachers are always second guessing themselves, doubting their skills and gradually begin to feel incompetent.

With unprecedented student performance pressures being put on teachers today, it is no wonder they begin to doubt themselves.

This is wrong!  Something is very, very wrong when even the most talented and experienced teachers begin to question their teaching skills.

This is why it’s imperative that teachers today start to filter through all the noise around them, and sort through it to determine what is most important to themselves and the betterment of their students.

Silent that ‘panic alarm’ inside your brain and stay true to yourself.

Professional growth takes time.

When you feel compelled to implement too many of the ‘things’ out there, chaos will slowly begin to reign in your classroom.

You will find your patience begin to slip. Your classroom management strategies will begin to fail and you will observe more behavior problems.  You will begin to feel more and more less confident in yourself and your students will sense this.

These are the alarm signals that you should be listening to, not all the other ‘noise’ around you.

Child experts all agree that children thrive in routine.  When that routine is disturbed for prolonged periods, children will have more difficulty regulating their behaviors and emotions.

If you want to make changes to your program, or add something new, do it slowly and thoroughly.  Be sure to include the teaching of a new routine if that is part of the change. I have a post on How to teach a new routine.

Questions to ask yourself before you should implement something new in your classroom are:

  • Is it really worth your time and effort to implement?
  • Will your students benefit academically?
  • Does it help implement the curriculum?
  • Is it an important aspect of the curriculum?
  • Does it fit with your teaching style and philosophies?

Stay strong and stay the course!

American poet, essayist and lecturer, 1803-1882ralph-waldo-emerson-quotes-about-not-giving-up-staying-strong

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What Makes a Great Teacher?

After teaching for 27 years, I’ve been reflecting on what the qualities of a great teacher are.

The things that came to mind have nothing to do with curriculum delivery, local testing results or teacher performance reviews.

Becoming a great teacher is something that can grow over the years through experience and pedagogy but there are other qualities which are unmeasurable.

They have to do with the kind of person a teacher is.

Students are the ones who can feel these qualities every day in the classroom.  Hours and hours of planning and marking cannot compensate for these qualities.




  • treating someone in a way that is right or reasonable


  • of a good nature or disposition


  •  able to remain calm and not become annoyed when dealing with problems or difficult people


  • genuine, sincere, honorable, respectable


  • acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate


  • all aspects of organization effects the whole instead of just parts


When you stop and think about this list, teachers need to display these qualities throughout every day of their teaching lives.

This is a challenge for anyone.

It isn’t always easy to ‘take the high road’.  Teachers are constantly inundated with multitudes of split second decisions they must make every day to create the best learning environment for their students to excel in.

All you can do is strive to do your best every day and remember you are human, and only one person, and “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”


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Breathe New Life into your Classroom

After the much anticipated holiday break, everyone returns to their classrooms, teachers and students alike feeling renewed.

This is a great time to start fresh.  Over the holidays, take some time out to think about things you’d like to add, change, fix, or improve in your classroom.

Some things you might want to consider are;

  • new improved seating plan

Think about ‘hot spots’. Are there students sitting within close proximity to each other who really need to have some distance? Are there students who need a ‘friend’ to sit beside?

Consider the flow of traffic in your room. Is there a better way to configure the desks to improve traffic flow?

  • tweak your daily schedule

Consider if there is not enough movement between subjects to allow students to blow off some steam naturally.  Think about changing up the amount of time in their seats, lesson time, activity time etc. to create a more natural flow throughout the day that works best to keep the harmony in the classroom.

  • clean slate for your behavior challenges

Take some time at the start of the new year to talk individually with your behavior students and work out a plan with them to help them manage some of their disruptive behaviors. Check out my October post Cheer for the Underdog! for behavior management strategies.

  • new classroom management system

If you find yourself dealing with the same problems over and over, try to find a solution.  There are a lot of great resources out there for classroom management ideas.  Take a bit of time and research some. My post in September deals with this issue The Trouble Shooting Mechanic!

  • do some cleaning and tidying

On the first day back, have yourself and students do some much needed cleaning and organizing in the classroom.  An organized classroom and desk area is conducive to a smooth running classroom for yourself and your students. Get rid of the clutter! Clutter is stress inducing.  An earlier post in September Keep it Simple! talks about aiming for less is more!

  • classroom expectations

Set some new ground rules that you wish you had implemented earlier on in the school year.  This is your opportunity to use ‘hindsight is 20/20’ to your advantage.  Use what you already know about a group of students, to improve their overall experience in your classroom.

  • personal goal setting

Take time out for yourself each day to look after some aspect of your physical, emotional and nutritional well being.  See my post in October Happy Teacher…Happy Students! for more tips on improving your overall well being and how it can impact the classroom.

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