Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Learning Curve

I've been a bit busy in the past month since I started work at my new school on August 9th. As my days rapidly fly by and I go without writing for yet another day, I find myself longing for the release of expressing myself here, sharing ideas with others. Twitter, which kept me learning for a good part of the summer, has been an occasional place to check in and briefly engage in a few thoughtful discussions with other educators.

The path of learning I have been climbing has been intense. Learning a new school culture, new curriculum, mapping program, and grade level has me wondering how kids feel when changes bombard them all at once. This preoccupation with "figuring things out" probably makes me appear unfocused or inattentive to others. I wonder if we judge kids this way when they have lots on their minds: new learning, new teacher, changes at home, new friends. What can we do to help ease transitions like the one I am experiencing?

Here are some ideas I've had to help both my students and I in times of great change and transition:

  • Keep routines stable: Much as I have been wanting to stay up later to finish work, I have, for the most part, retained my bedtime routines. I have also been preparing my lunch each morning and try to include healthy sources of protein to keep me going!
  • Get plenty of exercise to boost mood and reduce anxiety: I have been not as consistent as I had hoped but I am working on getting 3-4 workouts minimum each week.
  • Make to-do lists: prioritize to-do's so that I don't feel overwhelmed by all of the ideas in my head!
  • Connect with friends and family as much as reasonably possible. Let them know it's a busy time and plan/schedule a time to call and catch up.
  • Use humor to lighten the mood and build positive emotions. Research by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson at UNC Chapel Hill Pep Lab confirms that inducing positive emotions helps us function better cognitively.
  • Have reasonable expectations: some things just take time. No one is super-human.
So, what do you think of this idea? Do you think that when kids are on a deep learning curve that we sometimes mistake their deep consuming learning for inattention? How do we help them or ourselves when life throws us multiple new opportunities to learn and grow?

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