By Adam Brown
As teachers return for another school year, excitement fills the air. Motivation, grand ideas, and optimism are widespread in a school building. This mindset is a culmination of time off, a fresh perspective, and a rejuvenation of the potential for new opportunities. This outlook at the starting line stays strong for the first weeks in September.
However, it begins to dwindle when we approach the month of October. At roughly six weeks in, the paperwork starts to become overwhelming. The ideas that were planned over the summer don’t pan out like we had hoped. The optimism begins to dampen. The “October slump” sets in.
So, how do we address this slide into the “dark side”? Here are three ways in which we can remain optimistic, energetic, and avoid the slump.
Strategy #1: Set a Classroom Goal
Students can often encounter the October slump as well. The only difference is that teachers have a lot more choice in how they handle it. Planning a classroom goal for October can help keep everyone focused on a short-term objective that produces a positive outcome for all. Nothing is more motivating than the entire class celebrating the achievement of a goal that everyone has worked toward. When this goal is reached, a party, field trip, or other celebration can take place and rejuvenate the spirits of all.
Strategy #2: Reflect Daily
Everyone has a different way of reflecting. Finding a way to engage in daily reflection can allow teachers to maintain focus on the bigger picture and not get bogged down by the daily challenges. It can often be productive to reflect daily with other educators who are trying to avoid the October slump. Using forums such as Twitter and Voxer can allow teachers to engage in reflective activities and motivate each other to maintain the mindset they had at the start of the year.
Strategy #3: Plan a Weekend Getaway
Teachers often find every reason not to take time for themselves. Therefore, it is important to anticipate the slump and plan a weekend getaway for mid to late October. A weekend trip that will allow a teacher to engage in some rest and relaxation can be the ticket to maintaining focus and energy throughout the month. A bed and breakfast, camping trip, or sporting event are activities that can be planned in September and serve as something to look forward to as the slump approaches.
Teachers are only as effective as the mindsets they display on a daily basis to their students. It is common for teachers and students to experience ups and downs throughout the course of a school year. Thus, teachers must anticipate the times of the year in which slumps may occur and proactively plan ways to combat them—both personally and for students
Adam Brown is a K–12 principal in Virginia. He is a 2016 ASCD Emerging Leader, an ASCD Influence Leader, and member of the Educational Leadership Reading Advisory Board. Brown is also a 2014 AERA Emerging Scholar. Connect with him on Twitter @AdamBrownEDU or his on blog at https://medium.com/@AdamBrownEDU.