Sometimes, as teachers with all our responsibilities, decisions, and lack of sleep, we have difficulty remaining focused and consistent. We might struggle to be consistent with our classroom management or subject lessons.
There’s a way around that struggle—it’s the one thing.
I recently listened to a podcast about this approach to your every day. The author being interviewed—Jay Papazan—offered this key strategy from his bestselling book: the idea of the “success list.” It wasn’t just his strategy. It’s the strategy of successful people across the globe.
A success list is far better than a traditional to-do list. A success list centers around your number one priority, your one thing. Your one thing is the most important thing in your life. Your list of priorities for your work day, or even for your weekend, always begins with this priority. Most people already know the One Thing in their lives. Maybe yours is your family or your students. But what about just inside your classroom? What’s your one thing when you are there?
For my classroom, my one thing has always been growing my students. But more importantly it’s being present and taking time to know how to grow all my students. I know that if I don’t take the time to think about that, it will not happen.
A few years ago, one of my students, Ashley, began to cry as she struggled to (incorrectly) answer a text-based question about the assigned chapter of our novel study. She should have been able to answer it if she had done the reading, but she couldn’t. She looked up at me with her brown, soulful eyes, “I tried to read it but it was so confusing. It didn’t make any sense. The words were all jumbled in my head.”
Ashley hadn’t been diagnosed with dyslexia or any learning disability, yet she displayed lots of neurodiversity. She was left-handed, very creative, and ultra compassionate.
Another teacher, on another day, or in another school, may have been frustrated because she didn’t read her assigned chapter. But I am not any teacher, and neither are you.
My most important thing—every day in my classroom—is to be present with my students. Be present so I can take my time. It’s my one thing. My success list varies, but every day at the top of my page is “be present—take my time.”
So I remembered to take time to listen to Ashley. I was able to be present to know how to differentiate for her (remind her to take the book home and listen to the chapter via a read aloud on YouTube). I knew then she’d be able to complete a quick-write and engage in a class discussion (and grow her brain) along with the rest of the class.
My one thing helps me remember to stop to get a drink of water during a lesson, and to have a quiet lunch—taking care of my introverted self.
So what’s your one thing in your classroom? I bet it is not “Survive Until Friday!” Maybe it is reaching all your levels? Could it possibly be growing all your students?
Take the time to write your one thing on your success list, or even just your to do list. Remember, the number one thing enabling your students to succeed is you.