Teachers are a little bossy. Don’t take offense, dear friend. I’m bossy too. One of the perks of being a teacher is being in charge of our classroom.
If you stop to think about it, we’re in charge of just about everything in our classroom from lesson planning, to design, to structure, and just about the entire movement and routines of the whole school day.
Why shouldn’t we be a little bossy? I’d bet that you probably love being in charge. If you weren’t comfortable being in charge, you would choose another kind of work, something else where someone else told you what to do all day.
But sometimes we sabotage ourselves by believing we can’t make good choices. Then we trust someone else to determine what our lessons should look like, or what our classroom structure should be.
For example, if we’re given a new curriculum—(not new standards, but something like a new textbook series)—we think that we have to use the lessons given to us in them. We trust those people, the ones who designed it, to create the best lessons for OUR students. Sound familiar?
I was guilty of doing the same thing. I blindly followed the reading teacher’s edition my first year of teaching. It’s what everyone else was doing and it was my first year. And I had a -2 growth score for reading that year. So not only did my students not grow that first year, they slipped a little on average.
And here’s why. The people who design lesson plans for our textbooks don’t know our students. They can’t. And not to be harsh, but most likely if they had ever been a classroom teacher, it was 20 years ago when things were quite different. Have you ever noticed that only the on-level and advanced students understand the lessons in any curriculum, whether math, reading, science, or social studies?
Yep. That was me. But how do you trust yourself to make different choices, planning your own lessons and creating the structure of your day—to be your own boss COMPLETELY year after year?
It’s simple but not easy. It’s a secret that most people don’t know and no one will tell you. The secret is two-fold.
The first part is to trust yourself and your teacher heart to make the right decisions—TRUST that you know your students year after year better than anyone else. You do, I promise.
Here’s how I can be so sure. Think about all the hard things you’ve done in your life. If you made a list of everything new you’ve tried, no matter if you felt success or failure, you would see how tough and resilient you actually are. Would you trust that person? That person is you.
The second part is a little harder. Simply put, you have to be willing to get uncomfortable. Stepping out of your comfort zone means you’ll be in the learning pit sometimes, especially when you don’t know exactly what to do. You may have to learn something new, stepping away from relying only upon your curriculum or your school district.
The secret to being your own boss completely is owning who you are—the best teacher for your students year after year, even when that means choosing your own learning. Even when that means you are smart enough to seek advice from experts outside your school or district.
As the poet and scientist Johann Goethe said, “Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.” Otherwise, you’re living a version of someone else’s life—and that’s not you.