We have this thing in education, it's called backwards design lesson plan. This idea of backwards design is how you should plan everything you present to your kids. What do you ultimately want your students to take away from this class, lesson or unit? What do you want them to learn? Then, just as the name states, you work backwards from that.
Example... we are doing an Ancient Greece simulation in my history class. For the first day, I said "What do I need my students to understand by the time class is over today?" I decided they needed to know information about city-states and Gods & Goddesses. So we did one activity about city-states and one about Gods and Goddesses. Pretty simple.
Today as I was walking to school, thinking about what a bad day I was going to have because it's B-day and well, B-day is extremely difficult for me. Then I decided to backwards design myself, What do I want from this day? I want to teach my B4 class without losing my cool. I want to be productive. I don't want to be a couch potato. I want to drink a Diet Coke. I want to make a delicious dinner. I want to have a good day! Who wakes up wanting to have a bad day? No one, I tell you. No one.
I used to describe myself as a positive person. On job applications when it asks "what are three words to describe yourself" I would say bubbly, positive, and reliable. It was only last year that I was like "Holy crap, I'm not positive at all. I'm actually really negative." It's not like I believe life is pointless and we should all just die, how could you really think like that? However, I am realistic to a fault. I don't really have high expectations for anything, ever. If I am going to an event i'm like "Well this could suck," and then I am just pleasantly surprised if it doesn't. It's a super annoying trait that I have developed, if I may say so.
I need to find a balance between positive thinking as well as remaining realistic and I think that means setting goals, backwards-designing my life. I don't mean big goals like "Be HAPPY!" or "Survive Student Teaching" but really small, manageable goals. Today I had two hours of prep time. Honestly, i'm worthless during prep. I usually walk home and watch TV and eat. Today I asked myself, "What do I want to get out of these next two hours?" I wanted to be able to grade papers, plan out my timeline for my lessons for the next two weeks, get a diet coke and go thank the art teacher. I did all of those things during my prep time today and I honestly felt so good. I couldn't stop smiling, even when a kid dropped the F-bomb in my last class of the day. Backwards-designing my life, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, it keeps me realistic, it keeps me positive. Did I have my moments today where I was like "My goal for this hour is not to kill this little critter child. I am failing miserably right now." but having the goal in my mind really helped me not to totally lose it.
So there's a lil bit of teacher wisdom for you today.
(have a good school year)