Friday, May 28, 2010

Slow Down!

Do you feel like I do that we are rushing through each day and rushing through our lives? There are days where I just want to stop, take a deep breath, and rest a moment before returning to the hectic pace. But the question I'm asking myself and those of you reading this blog is – why aren't we slowing down and taking deep breaths every day and all through the day?

When we are rushed I believe we often make poor decisions, not necessarily bad, just not the best possible decisions. It's like when you're rushing down the street on your way to an important meeting that starts in five minutes. You are so focused on getting to the meeting that you may not notice you are cutting in front of cars, almost knocking down pedestrians, and making hairpin turns onto the street or into the parking lot. I think this happens to us in the school as well. We are so focused on getting to the next big milestone in the curriculum, in the testing, and in the school year that we react instinctually rather than thoughtfully.

Think about that for a minute. When we are rushed we react instinctually rather than thoughtfully. What does this mean for our interactions with students? Do we quickly hand out consequences rather than slowing down to find out exactly what happened? Do we label and lump students into an unofficial "group" based on first impressions? Do we offer vague praise or an absent-minded pat-on-the-back when offering feedback? Do we ignore individual student concerns and issues in our rush to address the needs of the whole class?

I believe very strongly that our interactions with students help each one to develop a sense of identity and self-worth. The time we take and the relationships we make send important messages and have lasting impressions on our students. What message are we portraying when we rush through our curriculum? What message are we portraying when we rush through our assessment? What message are we portraying when we rush through our interactions with students and parents?

I think these questions are something as teachers we all need to think about. Then we need to take a deep breath and slow down.


Dodie said...

I work with new teachers and often find myself telling them many of the messages in this post. It is a hard lesson but I remember exactly the year that I stopped and looked at why I was stressing out about 'getting everything done'. It was a great aha for me to realize that it truly isn't about what I teach but about what my students learn. Now working with new teachers I can try to give them some strategies to help them focus on what is important- and to always remember to slow down and relax- that giving yourself time is sometimes the most important thing you can do for your students.

Emma McDonald, Inspiring Teachers said...


Thanks for your comment! Slowing down is so hard to do but so very important. I'm glad to know that new teachers in your school have such a wise mentor! :)