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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Visualize: First Step to Success

Whenever a challenging task awaits, a good first step is to visualize. There's no doubt that teaching well is challenging. It's challenging whether it's your first day on the job or another first day of many in your long history as a teacher so it may be helpful to visualize your efforts before embarking on the new year. The questions below can lead your visualization.

1. What will you wear the first day, and why will that matter? Is the first day a day you meet with colleagues and/or a day when you'll be moving furniture and setting up the room. What you wear matters because it tells the story, in part, of who you are and it also provides you with the right comfort level for good listening, friendly conversation, and expected efforts. You may want to check in with colleagues if you're new to know what the typical dress code is on the first day. In our school it's a relaxed dress day for teachers. Leaders typically dress up.

2. When will you arrive? Arriving on time or even early, gives you a chance to take a look around, talk to colleagues, notice changes, and study agendas and additional hand-outs.

3. Who will you seek out? Are you part of a team? Do you have a partner teacher? Has the leader asked you to check in when you arrive?

4. What level of contribution is best? Will you listen and/or contribute? What are the cultural expectations for contribution and share in your organization?

5. What kinds of collegial and independent work will you do in the preparation days to set the stage for students' successful start? (I keep a list of those activities because once the year starts it's difficult to remember all the pieces to the teaching puzzle.)

6. How will you react to the unexpected? You can expect the unexpected when it comes to school life so it's good to visualize and anticipate change and unexpected events. You almost always have the chance to say, "Give me a few minutes to think about this change as I want to make the best decision/action in this regard."

7.What will the first day with students be like? What will be your initial words? How will you make the room welcoming and inviting? What meaningful tasks will you begin the year with--tasks that whet their appetite for learning and their school community?

8. Overall what will your attitude and affect be like? Who do you want to be in your professional organization? What are the successful attributes and attitudes of educators in your system?