Have you ever tried to teach your child to ride a bike??? Back breaking, patience testing, and down-right awful! When my daughter was learning how to peddle on her trainig wheels we would fight, scream, and I would threaten to leave the bike on the raod for the garbage truck. No matter how many times we practiced, it always ended with my little monkey in tears. And me saying I will never do this again.
The cycle repeated and repeated. I am not sure I ever learned from my poor teaching strategy. Each biking session ended in the same fashion. God love my daughter, she, like so many kiddos, had determination to learn. She knew she could do it- even if it meant going out with me. By the end of the summer, she was biking with her training wheels around the block. She was slow, stopped peddling to look around, and, in my opinion, had not mastered the training wheels!
I recently had the opportunity to listen to Dr Stan Kutcher speak at a conference in Toronto. He is real, he speaks with knowledge and from the heart, and raises many interesting points. One point he raised is that we need to stop pathologizing ‘stress’ as ‘anxiety’. Not only does he reject the notion of a crisis, but he urges education systems to develop mental health literacy.
This concept reminded me of a young student telling me that she required a fidget spinner because of her anxiety at school. She went on to explain that when she was being challenged or introduced to something new, she got anxious. When I asked her to explain, she went on to describe stress: she was not sure she understood, she had lots of questions, she worried about mistakes, her hands got sweaty, she wanted to leave the room, and she felt overwhelmed.
How to Go through New School Year with Jitters
Are you a new teacher? Congratulations!
Are you ready for the (one of the) most important jobs? Feeling excited? Anxious? You have so much to learn, your professional practice growth is endless. BUT, you need to develop resilience. Are you ready to become more resilient? It takes time, support, and learning.
Having a fantastic year is something that a lot of people do not think is possible during their first year, despite being hopeful. You have gone through years of education and you thought you were ready. Once you are in front of the class, you may feel your legs start to buckle. You are suddenly confused about what you have to do- you become shy!
Do You Need a Coach Immediately?
Do you think that finding your way as a first-time teacher can be complicated? No worries!!! Being overwhelmed is normal. There will be moments when you will feel isolated because you have to focus too much on teaching that you forget about everything else. Some days, the situations you will go through are too much to handle. So many awesome teachers get to the point when they have to decide if they will continue or if they will try to change careers. I have been there lots!
The Nova Scotia Department of Education’s Special Education Policy (2008) outlines the commitment to inclusive education in the province. It states that every student is given a suitable, quality and inclusive education based on his needs. There are, however, two noticeable streams of training within this system. The first can be categorized as the ‘mainstream’. In other words, those students meeting desired provincial grade-level and participating in related standardized assessment. The second group could be categorized as ‘special needs’. Special needs, or ‘exceptionalities’ as written in the provincial document (p18) include: cognitive impairments, emotional/behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and/or health impairments, speech impairments and/or communication disorders, sensory impairments (vision/hearing), multiple disabilities, giftedness. Despite recognizing as an inclusive system, there continues to be clear structures in place of what is ‘expected’ or ‘normal’ for students, and for those who require something ‘supplementary’. When teachers are supplementing strategies for some students there is a chance that these ‘developments take place in isolation and therefore are fragmented’ (Head, G., 2011, p3). As well, Florian and Black-Hawkins (2012) point out the limiting challenges of ‘bell-curve thinking’ (p826) on the development of students who fall outside of the norm.