I just love Fall. I love the crisp air, the beautiful changing leaves, and the newness that comes with the season. I love the smell of pumpkin spice anything and I especially love the seasonal coffee flavors. This time of year is all about transformation and if you have not figured it out, I am a fan of Fall and the changes it brings.
With this season, people are relieved to have an adjustment in the weather. Trust me, once the humidity has started to decrease and you no longer start dripping the minute you’re outside, you can hear the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Different seasonal sports begin to invade homes and weekend schedules. I get to bust out my favorite jeans and scarves - yay, time for layers! The list goes on and on.
Fall also means teachers and students have been in session for about two and a half months. The honeymoon phase is over, sometimes it ended more quickly than you may have expected, and it is time for some changes to be made. What are some changes you ask? Well, I have made adjustments to some team dynamics in my classroom. Rearranging students’ seats is important. It keeps the classroom vibe fresh while students are kept on their toes. When seats are changed, I make sure to do some team building exercises. The kids, while they have been classmates for a number of years, need to build trust with one another and prove they can work as a team. Some of my favorite team building activities include “What would you do if…” questions that challenge students’ opinions and allow them an opportunity to share what they think with their peers while gaining new perspectives. Learning to speak and listen is an essential skill that is valuable as students progress in school and life. I have also enjoyed hearing stories of teachers who have used “Minute to Win It” as a class building activity. These activities get kids out of their seats and provide an opportunity to play, encourage one another, cheering each other on, all the while learning about perseverance in a fun and safe setting.
During this season, it is also important to take care of yourself. Maybe a personal schedule adjustment is long overdue? Hours of lessons planning, grading papers, perusing data, committee commitments, and more can take a toll on teachers. If you have not experienced a sore throat yet, yay for you! There are so many ways to take care of yourself - all it takes is a little planning to enjoy your personal time. Pick one day a week, just to start, and try committing yourself to leaving at the end of the day. Take some time for just you. If that means going to the library to read in a quiet space, do it! If that means you go and dance at Jazzercise, do it! If that means spending time at home with your family, do it! Whatever it is that you choose to do for your mental and physical well-being, do it! If you are not on the top of your game, your students won’t be on the top of theirs.
I don’t know about you, but I also like to take time during the season to examine my professional goals that I set at the beginning of the year. Enough time has passed since outlining my hopes and dreams for the school year to see if I am still on track. Goals could include furthering your education and professionalization, trying a new design thinking process like Launch Design Thinking in the classroom, or implementing a new classroom management tool; there are SO many goals you could choose from. Maybe your goals have changed or need to be modified based on student and classroom needs, professional development opportunities, etc. Great! Now is the time to make adjustments. Heck, maybe you already achieved one of your goals. If that’s the case, please Tweet it out with all of your wisdom so that we can all learn from you and celebrate your accomplishments! If you haven’t set goals with specific, measurable outcomes (I know, make a SMART goal, right?), then now is the time!
The point is, that Fall is a time for new opportunities. New weather, new activities, new ideas, and more. If you see something or someone out there embracing change, jump on board! Those movers and shakers are the ones whose innovation help encourage and inspire change. Follow them on Twitter (@burgessdave, @TaraMartinEDU, and @gcouros are just a few AMAZING innovators out there) and begin interacting with colleagues in your building or district or even around the world, and SHARE your amazing ideas. All of us have the ability to embrace this beautiful season and model it for teachers and students. Fall means that the possibilities are endless. Let’s do this!
Mena T. Hill
Educator, Wife, Mother, Colorado Native