This week’s blog post writer, Susanne Leslie, is a Curriculum & Instruction Specialist with Learners Edge. Prior to joining the Edge, Susanne worked as a parent educator in Minnesota’s Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program and worked with parents of 0-5 year olds. Susanne is the proud parent of two daughters.
Driving in my Jeep, singing along to the radio, and suddenly I hear the words “back-to-school.” Immediately I feel it in my stomach: a combination of excitement and anxiety about the upcoming school year. Talk with anyone heading back to school, and you can hear a mixture of anticipation for the adventures that lie ahead and anguish over how quickly summer has passed.
Those who study anxiety tell us these feelings are natural and that most of us experience them. As Khalil Gibran says “our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”
Beyond a healthy dose of apprehension, a new school year can also bring a level of anxiety caused by stress with colleagues. In Dr. Jane Bluestein’s book The Win-Win Classroom,1 she teaches ways to ensure our experiences with colleague are the best they can be, and reminds us about what we can, and cannot, control. Outlined below are eight strategies to help you start the year off right with your colleagues.
1. First determine: is it my business? This tip can alleviate a lot of stomachaches and headaches. Decide if there is a concern that involves you. If not, let it go. Or, as my colleague says “not my circus, not my monkeys.” Tuck that phrase in your back pocket.
2. Next, do your best not to take things personally. If you haven’t read the book The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz,2 get your hands on it. For those of you thinking you don’t have time, here they are, at their most basic:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
Follow these four and see if your anxiety goes the way of the abacus.
3. Think and plan ahead. By thinking and planning ahead, we can prevent miscommunications and feel empowered knowing we have a plan for the day. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
4. Consider the feelings of others. Strive for empathy. Lend a hand if you can, and if you can’t, provide support by listening.
5. Ask for what you want. Use your communication and collaboration skills to state your needs.
6. Work as a team. Problem-solve. Keep an open mind. To develop strong teams, it is important to create common goals, to collaborate and to ensure there is open communication so participants can share their opinions without fear.
7. Remember, we all have our own issues. Try to see things from all perspectives and remember we all have the power to instigate change.“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” Margaret Mead.
8. Be brave. If you are struggling to be brave, read the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, PhD.3 In her book (and in her TED Talks on vulnerability and shame) Brown discusses the importance of “standing in the arena” and daring to fail.
TED Talks links:
And remember, as Glenda-the-Good-Witch in the Wizard of Oz told Dorothy, “you had the power all along, my dear.”
Tuck that one in your back pocket, too.
Good luck, and have a great school year!
Next week in part three of our August Anxiety series, we will examine strategies for managing anxiety with the parents of your students.
1. Bluestein, J (2008). The Win-Win Classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA. Corwin.
2. Miguel Ruiz, D (1997). The Four Agreements. San Rafael, CA.Amber-Allen
3. Brown, B (2015). Daring Greatly. New York City, NY. Avery
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