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Ex-Husbands, Control & Windmills: A Teacher's New Year Musings


I can only control myself, my actions, my work ethic, and my attitude.
                                                                                       -Ali Krieger

My ex-husband had a theory about teachers. He believed that we like to be in control. "You're large and in charge kind of people," he'd remind me when we'd talk about my work situations and colleagues. Or better yet, "Don't talk to me like I'm one of your students!"  when we debated one of my opinions about our life together. Looking back, we can laugh together about these conversations, but I think he might have been right about our need to control our environments, our students, and our teaching practices. 

I was thinking about him today as I organized some teaching materials. I stood in front of my desk with my hands on my hips and caught my reflection in the window. What I saw made me giggle. I definitely looked like an in-charge control freak. 

My goal for this school year is to let go of the things I can't control. So often, we teachers expend our energies fighting foes we have no hope of conquering. Like Don Quixote charging windmills, we wring our hands over our school district or state's policies. We focus on what our students are lacking, or fixate on staff lounge conversations. We compare our failings and successes to those of our colleagues. It's true that we can hope to have some influence over policies or laws. We can try to address our students' home lives, and we can engage in collegial conversations. But at the end of the day, when our efforts aren't impactful, we have a choice. We can continue to charge the windmill or we can focus on what we can control.

This year, I'm going to be focusing on my what's in my circle of control. I think I'll feel happier. I think I'll feel less stressed. And, I think I'll do my job better. 


Looking for a way to decompress this year? You might enjoy these resources.

We Teach So Hard is a podcast just for teachers. Each week, three teaching friends and I tackle classroom topics, talk about kid lit, laugh, cry and rage a little. Give us a listen in the car on your way to work! Click the picture to listen.

If you're looking for a little simplicity in your life, this challenge is just for you. I revisit it at the start of every school year. Click the picture to read more about it. 



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