So here we go.
You got this.
Today you have the opportunity to get a little momentum going. You don’t need a lot. Just enough so that you head into tomorrow, Tuesday, with a little more swag than you had the day before. It’s possible. In fact, I think it is likely if you follow the three suggestions below. One has to do with work. One has to do with play. And one has to do with people.
Check On Certain Students and Staff
While many of us may have had a fun and relaxing weekend, we must remember that the past weekend may have been very difficult for some staff and students. What can make a bad weekend even more difficult is hearing about everyone else’s great weekend.
Yes, some of us got to sleep in and go out to breakfast with our friends and family. Others? Maybe they had to work a second job that didn’t allow them to sleep in. Or maybe some kids didn’t have any breakfast food at home so all they had was a bag of chips or a soda.
The thing is, we don’t know. How could we? I mean we can’t be expected to know everyone’s story. Okay, then what can we do? In other words, what can we do to make Monday just a little bit better for staff and students that had crappy weekends?
We need to start doing a better job of noticing. The kind of noticing to which I am referring, goes beyond someone’s shoes or hair style. We need to pay attention to body language, mood and overall demeanor. Here’s the thing—we are good at this. It’s what we do for a living.
Life can become so busy that our focus and our attention is divided such that we miss things. Important things. Like the fact that our colleague still has the hospital band on her wrist. She spent 5 hours in the Emergency Room Sunday night because her two-year old’s asthma was acting up again and she was barely able to drag herself out of bed and make it to work. We were so busy thinking about being observed 3rd period that we didn’t even notice something as obvious as a hospital arm band. It happens to all of us.
Something else, when we do in fact notice that one of students or colleagues is struggling, we should, quietly and respectfully, let them know that we notice. This isn’t to embarrass or call them out. It’s to show that we care. There may not be anything we can do to help them. But we can let them know that we see them and that we’re there if they need us. Being ignored or going unnoticed, especially when in pain, can be worse than the pain itself.
Why do I bring this up on Monday?
Shouldn’t we practice noticing every day of the week?
Absolutely. But I feel like Monday is the day that those that are suffering are the most vulnerable.
Take a few minutes to read Trevor Muir’s piece about a time when he spoke before learning a student’s story. If he had only checked on her. Once you’re finished reading his piece, listen to him share the experience. It’s powerful. It’s painful and it’s important.
Take the time and make the effort to notice.
It’s that important.
Begin With the End in Mind
I know. I know. You’ve heard this advice from Stephen Cover a million times. And yet we—I put myself at the top of this list—continue to wander aimlessly through weeks, months and years with nothing or very little to show for it at the end. But why? We all have good intentions once we begin the week or a project or a task. Yet, somehow once we get going, we lose our focus. We get caught so caught up in the doing that we lose sight of where we are going.
Try this. This Monday morning, on the way to work, visualize where you want to be on Friday. Now sometimes you need to check the pulse of the classroom on Monday to get an idea of what is possible for Friday. That’s okay. The time you take to gauge where you are and where you want to be is time well spent.
Set a classroom goal and share it with your students. Maybe you want your students to give 100 compliments by Friday. Maybe you want students to finish reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Friday. Or maybe you want the students in your fitness class to have worked every major muscle group at least once by the end of the week.
Obviously, you are going to have more than goal—more than one end in mind. But place your laser-like focus on just one of your goals. Too often, we become overwhelmed with so many different things that we end up doing poorly on everything. By placing your focus in one area, you have increased the likelihood that you will succeed in that area. Furthermore, you will increase your mental bandwidth because you are focusing on just one thing.
You’re still going to be trying to achieve your other goals. The only difference is, you are not overwhelming your brain and stretching your bandwidth too thin by focusing on too many things at once. Try this strategy for a week and see how it works. I think you’ll find that by the end of the week you will not only be more relaxed, you will also have reached more of your goals.
Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To
Okay, so far this piece has been super positive about Mondays. But trust me, I get it. Sometimes waking up early Monday morning after spending a few relaxing days with family and friends just plain stinks. Your weekend was awesome and you’re ready for another. But you got five days staring you down.
Try this Jedi mind trick.
Give yourself something to look forward to. And I don’t just mean Monday night. Give yourself something to look forward to on the weekend as well as each night of the week. And here’s the thing. What you are looking forward to doesn’t need to be expensive, elaborate or involved.
Maybe on Monday night you plan on sitting down with a bucket of popcorn and watching Breaking Bad with your spouse. Just an hour. But it’s your hour. So, if or when Monday gets rough, think about what you’re going to do that night. I don’t mean blank out and I am not talking about shirking your responsibilities. But sometimes we must take ourselves to other places and times so that we can make it through. There’s nothing wrong that. Plus, it works.
Better yet, try this with one of your students that is having a rough day. Take them aside and ask them what they are looking forward to when they get home. And when they say nothing—keep going. What I mean is search for even the smallest little thing that might make them smile or bring them joy. It may be something as simple as sitting on their couch eating a candy bar. Or maybe they are looking forward to talking to their girlfriend or boyfriend, on the phone, in private. Some students might just be ready to be somewhere where there is no noise, stress or demands placed upon them.
I get it. Mondays aren’t always easy and sometimes getting through them can be tough. I hope that is not always the case, but I am a realist. We all need something to look forward to—something to keep us going. Yes, school is our job and we are often passionate about what we do. But we all have those days and more often than not, they seem to fall on Mondays.
Start Your Week Off Right
Mondays can make or break your week just like mornings can make or break your day. Hopefully I have given you a few things to think about and a few strategies to try that will help you start your Monday off right. It’s perfectly normal to miss the weekend—but I also think it’s time we start heading into Mondays with a little more purpose and a little less dread.
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