The obstacle is the way mentality
Whenever there is a crisis, there is an opportunity. Instead of complaining, it is much more productive and helpful to look for the opportunity that a crisis presents. I’ve written about this before but I want to dig a bit more here. It’s of course easier to complain and it has become a common human trait nowadays. If we surround ourselves with people like that their behavior inevitably rubs off on us. It’s just the science of it. Which reminds me of a quote I heard from a rap song many years ago: ‘You are, who you associate with. Look around at your five closest friends and that’s who you, if you don’t want to be that person than you know what you got to do…’
I remember thinking about that at the time and realizing the truth in it. It’s extremely important to surround yourself with people who will encourage you, share your opinions and be a positive force in your life. No doubt, when there is a crisis, having those types of people around will help you get through those difficult situations. That goes for professional circles, personal friendships and co-workers you see every day.
When there is a crisis, we tend to shrink, and look for shelter, hide and retreat. Actually, that is the wrong reaction. Instead, we need to stand up and take action. Help others, be proactive, and immediately look for ways to take advantage of the difficult situation. If a teacher is struggling and having difficulties, there’s an opportunity right there for you as a co-worker to help them. Maybe you’ll discover that you have a lot of practical advice and suggestions worth sharing. The help can come in many forms: resources for teachers, classroom management ideas, teaching stress-free, practical ideas on how to teach certain language structures etc. Teaching is a collaborative profession, and we teachers should always be helping each other in any way we can. If you are in a teaching job that limits your potential, than be proactive despite the rules and regulations and see what the reaction will be.
Initiate the change you seek
This summer, I was told that the ‘Youth leaders academy’ syllabus would be dictated from outside the camp by someone who had already prepared what the topics would be and what would be covered in each lesson. Upon reviewing the material I could clearly see that this was not to the standard of a leadership class, there was even a food pyramid in there. I decided to change it with materials that were more appropriate and, as far as I can tell, the reaction has been nothing but positive from my bosses and the agents who have come to observe the class. My point here is that I didn’t sit back and accept the circumstances, I took action and maybe a bit of a risk for the sake of learning outcomes. It was a crisis for me, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my teaching integrity to just follow someone else’s plan, I’m not a robot. So I initiated the change. The key is to stop reacting, and initiate more. Initiating stuff, takes effort, creativity and risk but provides benefits of personal growth and progress. If you are surrounded by friends, family and co-workers who show you resistance than you need to step back from them and take your own path. Certain ‘friends’ don’t want to see you change, they like you just the way you are. So if you go on your own path and they ridicule you, then so be it. If you have integrity then you need to do what is necessary to preserve it, damn the consequences. I assure you, whatever it may be, you will look back at that moment in your life with pride, knowing you made the right decision, no regrets.
Having the right mindset
A crisis can occur in our personal life, in our work or maybe even in your country. When that moment comes, that’s the moment that will define you. It can be a turning point or a crushing defeat if you let it. But it’s up to you and your mind-set. Having a growth mind-set means that we will always be determined and learn and make progress through difficult situations. A lot of times it’s our manager or boss that’s bringing us down, but you got to rise above. Just keep doing great work, keep helping others. If people underestimate us, then we have the advantage. Stay the course.
As educators we work in a stressful environment, under a system that crushes us with administrative work and tries to take the creativity out of our classroom by making school a factory. I urge all educators out there to hold firm and resist. If it’s not the system it may be the parents. They might come at you with fury in their nostrils. But you got to weather the storm. When parents come to me with concerns I attentively listen and quite often have to respectfully tell them to back off. Diplomatically of course, but that’s the ultimate message. Do I tell you how to do your job as a parent?
We need a license to drive, We need to get a diploma to get a job. We need training and a certificate to be a TEFL teacher but there is no certification course or training for having children. If you want one or three or whatever you can just go right ahead, no training necessary. So as I’ve said before, take your respect. Before you didn’t have it, now you do.