School Matters: Banish the Mid-Year Blahs Six tips to help you recharge, re-energize and refocus for the second semester. School Matters
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School Matters  |   January 01, 2014
School Matters: Banish the Mid-Year Blahs
Author Notes
  • Murray Banks, MS, an educator and world-champion athlete, was the opening plenary speaker at the 2013 ASHA Schools Conference in Long Beach, Calif. He was Teacher of the Year in Vermont in 1982, has been to the World Championships in two sports, and is a long-time motivational speaker. ·murray@murraybanks.com
    Murray Banks, MS, an educator and world-champion athlete, was the opening plenary speaker at the 2013 ASHA Schools Conference in Long Beach, Calif. He was Teacher of the Year in Vermont in 1982, has been to the World Championships in two sports, and is a long-time motivational speaker. ·murray@murraybanks.com×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / School Matters
School Matters   |   January 01, 2014
School Matters: Banish the Mid-Year Blahs
The ASHA Leader, January 2014, Vol. 19, 36-37. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.19012014.36
The ASHA Leader, January 2014, Vol. 19, 36-37. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.19012014.36
Banish the Mid-Year Blahs
Six tips to help you recharge, re-energize and refocus for the second semester.
BY MURRAY BANKS
It’s cold outside and the nights fall early. Despite the fire in our bellies in August to make this a successful school year, the mid-year has arrived, bringing a second round of hard work. So it’s time for a pep talk to make January your new August.
As SLPs, you are “specials” in your schools. You are faculty … but not quite. You are integral to the success of children with very special needs, but often have to overcome numerous hurdles to do your jobs. And, nearly every child you see each day has very special needs that can challenge your skills and your personal energy. And there’s still half a year to go.
Like world-class athletes, successful educators may not love tough challenges, but they know how to focus to get the job done and they continually do the things they need to do to be successful. And what do they focus on? The goals, not the problems; the outcomes, not the obstacles; what success will look like, not what failure will feel like; the stimulation of the challenge, not the fatigue of the struggle.
Whenever I’ve competed in triathlons and ski races, I’ve always felt intimidated, stressed and worried about what might go wrong to ruin my months of preparation. Ultimately, a successful performance depended on my converting that nervous energy into a positive focus on goals, knowing that once we got going I would be in my element and that my training had prepared me well for the challenge. You can do the same in your school. Convert your stress into positive energy by taking care of yourself, focusing on strategies for success, being adaptable and staying optimistic. Easier said than done? Not so. Here are six tips to help you be at your
best every day so your students can achieve their best.
Who you are may be more important than what you know.
Your persona may be more relevant than your master’s degree to your success in working with children. Persona is that aura around you, those subtle nuances of your personality. Students and colleagues love SLPs who are focused, yet personable; hard-working, yet fun-loving; well-organized, yet spontaneous when necessary. It’s a tough balancing act to be student-centered, goal-oriented and focused, yet gracious, fun-loving and compassionate. How do you do it? The answer is awareness … always being conscious of how your persona is changing under stress, how it is affecting everyone around you, and what you need to do to get back on track. Students are perceptive and they tune in to our shifts in energy and outlook. Never underestimate the power of a cheerful greeting, a
laugh or smile, a compliment or pat on the back.
Be a lava lamp.
Adopt a “lava lamp philosophy” for your work (and life). Remember the lava lamp? Once plugged in, turned on and warmed up, it is always moving and changing. A “lava lamp philosophy” means you always look at what you are doing and how you can do it better, different and more effective. Be agile, adaptable, resilient, innovative and imaginative.
Avoid “psychosclerosis.”
This “hardening of the attitude” will kill any chance at creativity and problem-solving. Symptoms sound like these: “We’ve never done it that way before;” “I’ll never get through to that child;” “It’s not in my contract;” “We tried that back in ’83;” and my favorite, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Don’t let this insidious disease infect you.
What you focus on expands.
Remember the quote, “I’ll believe it when I see it?” Turn that around to
“You’ll see it when you believe it” and positive things begin to happen. If you focus on the outcomes you want, you are more likely to achieve them; focus on the obstacles and you are more likely to stumble. Pressure and stress naturally cause us to focus on anything that threatens us … it goes back to our primal “fight or flight” instinct. But we also have the choice to harness that pressure, envision the outcomes we want and make the outcomes we desire more likely to happen. My sons are mountain guides and when we are skiing in steep gorges off huge mountains in the Alps, they often say “Dad, don’t look for cliffs and crevasses, look for the good snow between them!”
Use the “10/90 rule” to stay focused on solutions, not problems.
Spend 10 percent of your time and energy on the problem and 90 percent of your time and energy on the solution. Can you imagine how smooth and concise staff meetings would be if we used this rule rather than beating problems to death repeatedly?
Keep your balance.
When you can’t control the stress in your life, balance it. Do those things that offset fatigue and frustration—physical activity, healthy eating, relaxation, playfulness, fun, love, humor … and the list goes on. It is all the things that go on the back burner “until I get past all this stuff I have to do!” No one ever looked back and wished they spent more time at work, so make sure you are physically active most days; eat smart (don’t even buy the junk makes you lethargic and instead snack on nuts, fruit and vegetables); turn off the television so you get enough sleep; hang out with fun people; and get your quota of hugs, laughs and smiles. We have to get what we need, so we have the energy to help others get what they need.Image Not Available
Spend 10 percent of your time and energy on the problem and 90 percent on the solution.
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January 2014
Volume 19, Issue 1