Just two days left before the weekend. If you’re having a tough week, just remember you’re almost there. And if you’re week is going well, then keep riding the wave. It’s easy to shrug your shoulders at Thursday because it’s not Humpday, like Wednesday and it’s not Friday, the last day before you get a little break. Don’t shrug it off though. Instead, try the three strategies below to make Thursday incredible.
Set Students Up for a Great Friday
Friday is often the most difficult day of the week for students. Misbehavior increases, stress and anxiety is elevated (often due to assessments being on Fridays) and students that have not earned the weekly incentive are already dreading the day.
Why not make Friday a day that students look forward to—no matter what.
Spend a portion of Thursday psyching your students up for what is going to happen on Friday. Maybe you decide to have theme days every Friday or every other Friday. Make it mismatch sock day and have a silly award to the student or adult who has the silliest socks. Students will come to school Friday just to see what their friends and the adults decided to wear. It may seem like a little thing, but it has the potential to change the mood in your room. Imagine, every time a student looks up, or down actually, they are going to see someone with socks that don’t match. They may not laugh out loud. They may not even make a sound. But inside, they smiled just a little. And that could make all the difference.
Now for some reason, and I was guilty, teachers and districts schedule at least one, if not several tests, every single Friday. Friday’s suck! Sorry, but I think inundating students with tests has taken much of the fun out of what for adults, has the potential to be a great day. Instead of celebrating a week of hard work, learning and exploration, we often have students sit for several hours bubbling in circles and double checking their work. I know, I know. Double checking your work is important. For students that are below level this is often a day where they rush and are reminded how behind they are. And for many other students, it’s a day that causes anxiety because they are expected to be perfect. No mistakes. Must get an A.
Okay, so if you have no say in your testing schedule and Friday had to be the day, then at least make it as enjoyable or as least painful as possible. And this begins on Thursday. Tell the students that you will be playing instrumental music during assessments. Don’t say classical because you will get eye-rolls and groans. Play instrumental music that students may already be familiar with. Hans Zimmer is my favorite. He wrote and produced the soundtracks for many of your students’ favorite movies; Transformers, The Dark Night Trilogy and the most recent Lion King. His music has energy and it is something that I promise you your students will recognize and enjoy. Another way to make assessments a little more palatable is to give kids a mint or even better, a Jolly Rancher during the test. Yes, they make be taking a test. But why not try to make the experience a little more pleasant? The key is to let your students know that all these things will be taking place on Friday. The key is planting the seed.
Watch One TED Talk
What I love about TED talks is that they are less than 20 minutes and they often teach me something I never knew. We often spend the bulk of our professional development learning about something that we hope will help us better master our craft. This makes sense. But I have found that we have become almost too specialized. It’s not our fault, we simply are conditioned to think that only educational stuff will help us become better educators. Rarely do we wander outside of our field when looking for ways to improve our craft.
I think we should and I think TED Talks are the perfect vehicle. For example, TED Talks such as Your body language may shape who you are, The danger of a single story and Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model were all talks that I found helped me become a better educator.
I didn’t watch either of these talks, expecting to learn something that would help me with my day job. But, each of the talks gave me insight, knowledge and awareness that I didn’t previously possess. David Epstein, author the New York Times Bestselling book Range noted:
“The labs in which scientists had more diverse professional backgrounds were the ones where more and more varied analogies were offered, and where breakthroughs were more reliably produced when the unexpected arose.”
In his book, Epstein explains how individuals who have a wide range of experiences and interests are often more effective and successful than those who simply specialize in one area. Now I’m not saying go out and get several other degrees. What I am saying is that by watching just one TED Talk a week, you would expand your knowledge such that you would have much more to draw on when solving problems within your field, teaching. No, you are not going to become an expert on body language or modeling by watching the aforementioned TED Talks. But what you will have are more diverse ways to attack problems that might come up in school.
Do 100 of Something
I am guessing that many of you, like me, are exhausted when you get home from work. You know you should head to the gym or go for a run. But you don’t. You want to spend time with your family, you have other obligations or you just want to relax. I get it.
That was me. And it kinda still is. With one small exception. Or to use James Clear’s term, one atomic exception.
Let me explain.
One of my major takeaways from Atomic Habits was that little changes, compounded over time, can have big effects. This was difficult for me for two reasons.
- First, when I was younger, I used to think that a workout had to be at least 45 minutes and it had to be super intense. If I wasn’t sweating, grunting and groaning, then it’s wasn’t really a workout.
- Second, social media inundates us with videos and infomercials that make us think that if we’re not following some prescribed workout regimen then we’re wasting our time.
Well, I have since been convinced otherwise. About two months ago, I began doing 100 reps of some exercise each day. The weights didn’t need to be heavy. I have 8 lb. weights sitting next to me as I am typing this piece. In fact, I don’t need weights at all. I could do push ups, squats, crunches, etc.
Most nights the 100 reps take me about 5 minutes. Some nights I do 4 sets of 25 and some nights I do 2 sets of 50. As long as I total 100 reps, it doesn’t matter how I get there.
At first, I didn’t see or feel much difference. But after about two weeks I started to notice my pants fitting better and my body feeling healthier. It was hard to believe, but one little habit compounded over time did make a big difference.
What does this piece have to with education or being a better educator?
Not a thing.
It takes on a much more important topic.
If you feel better then you will do better.
And I promise you, you can do 100 of something every day. Try it for a month and you’ll see what I mean. It’s time we allow ourselves to feel good. Oh, and it just happens that I recently had the chance to talk to James Clear about ways teachers can develop and stick with habits. Check out our interview by clicking here.
Finish the Week Strong
You’re almost there. Tomorrow is Friday. Hopefully you can look back on the week and smile. Hopefully you can look forward and be hopeful. Make Thursday awesome and you will set yourself up for a great Friday. And trust me, if you can win Friday, you can win any day.
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