Learn to Be Flexible

A teacher who is inflexible will not survive very long in the profession without burning out. No day is typical in the life a teacher. Very few lessons go exactly as planned. Interruptions can ruin the momentum of a class. Student disruptions can upset you and others, placing learning on the back burner.

If you have not prepared yourself to be in a constant state of flux, then you need to re-evaluate your choice of profession. Instead of looking at this instability in a negative light, it is important to see the positives in the situation. Change is necessary and exciting. Each day presents new challenges to overcome. Necessity is the mother of invention, and you will find that you invent many new techniques and ideas to help you adapt to the changing atmosphere of the school.

Keep Your Sanity

Teachers are suffering burnout all over the nation. In fact, it is estimated that 50 percent of teachers leave the profession in their first five years of teaching. This number is so high because teaching is a stressful job.

Unfortunately, you cannot change the school system, the interruptions, or the disruptions that will occur in your class each day. What you can alter is your own attitude about these disruptions. Being flexible and adaptable will help you deal with the many stresses of the job while allowing you to keep your sanity. If you look at many disgruntled teachers, you will see inflexible individuals who do not want to change their outlook or teaching methods.

The Flexible Lesson Plan

Take your lesson plan as an example. Many teachers make the mistake of treating the lesson plan as though it's set in stone, the only way of teaching their class. However, a lesson plan is not a strict regimen that must be followed. Really, it's nothing more than a guide.

Let's say you have created a multi-part lesson plan for a high school course that only allows for a 20-minute discussion period. However, once the discussion actually begins, the students get really involved. They are enjoying the conversation, and there's a lot of learning and interchange of good ideas going on. Do you decide at this point to cut the discussion short to follow your schedule or do you allow the discussion to continue so as not to lose momentum?

If you teach in a high school that offers 50-minute classes for 180 days, you may think that you have 9,000 minutes of instructional time. However, after taking daily routines and expected or unexpected interruptions into account, you will probably be left with closer to 7,600 minutes (or 153 days) devoted to teaching.

Obviously, you want to allow the discussion to continue. Moments like this can be rare, and they are wonderful to behold when they happen. It is your job as a teacher to capitalize on your class's excitement and not be hemmed in by a lesson plan you wrote the week before.

Many secondary school teachers get concerned if they do not cover the same material with each class and one falls behind. This can be confusing. However, you can adapt your lessons for that one class to gain time somewhere else. It is a small price to pay for a great educational experience.

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