I am not a procrastinator. I usually try to start my work early so that it’s finished before the deadline and I can even get feedback prior to the due date. But in the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve been procrastinating in two key areas:
- Finishing report cards.
- Packing up my belongings to move to my new school.
The Foundations Courses through The MEHRIT Centre are making me look at things differently, and I couldn’t help but think about The Shanker Method when exploring “why” I’ve procrastinated in both of these areas.
Reading And Reframing The Behaviour – You could interpret this behaviour as misbehaviour. I’ve known the report card deadline for months now, and I’ve known that I’m going to be moving schools for over a month now. Some may argue that there is no excuse in not being prepared in either case. But what if we interpret this behaviour as stress behaviour instead? What might be causing me stress, and as such, leading to this procrastination?
Recognize The Stressors – If I think about it, there are a number of different stressors connected to both the report cards and the packing. When both of these things are done, then the change in school (and environment) will seem real. Then I start to think about emotional goodbyes, changing teams (and leaving those people that I’ve connected with so well at Dr. Davey), and making new connections and friendships (which I always find challenging). Moving items also means noticeable changes in the physical space and the feel of the classroom, which causes me some stress. The messiness that comes with cleaning and packing — especially additional “visual noise” — is also a stressor for me. I get easily overwhelmed when there are things everywhere, and packing usually means a lot of items everywhere.
Reduce The Stressors – Meeting with my new team before the end of the year really helped me feel better about these changes. I had an amazing afternoon planning with the entire Kindergarten team, and I loved making new connections, noticing similarities in beliefs and practices, and laughing and bonding with this new group of people. When I went to the meeting today, I felt queasy and choked up, but I left the new school, feeling relaxed and excited. Seeing the new classroom also helped, as now I have a better feel for the physical space (indoors and outdoors (of which there’s a forest, which is especially thrilling)).
As for our current classroom, I did a lot of cleaning and organizing this morning, and I tried to only pack up and move items that we have in our cupboard. The children won’t realize that these items are gone, and they don’t change the actually feel or look of the classroom. I’ve arranged to move the bigger items at the end of the second last week of school, so the impact on the students (and I think on us) will be minimal. I also sorted and cleaned areas in small chunks today, so that I could contain the messes, and the room still looked great — and organized — when I left the school.
Reflect (Develop Stress Awareness) – I know now what’s causing me stress, so I can also make plans on how to respond to it. Even taking the time to blog about some of my thinking makes me feel better. Instead of avoiding the work, I can instead look at when to take a break, when some deep breathing might help, and when even talking to a friend will make me feel better. I think that the connections with new colleagues and the packing/organizing that I did today helped a lot too, and now I’m actually eager to do some report card writing tonight.
Respond (Develop Personalized Strategies To Restore Energy) – I’m so glad that the Kindergarten team at my new school suggested meeting today to plan for our upcoming Kindergarten Orientation and to connect with each other. While I’ve met the other Kindergarten teacher before, we haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk for long, so having that opportunity today was great. I also got to meet the rest of the team, and sharing ideas and listening to each other, made me feel so much more at ease. Now the idea of writing report cards and approaching the end of the school year, while still sad, seems a lot less stressful than it did before.
As for the packing, I wonder if sometimes the hardest part is getting started. The job seemed overwhelming at first, as there are so many cupboards and shelves to go through, but once I started today, the process went a lot quicker than expected. I also realized that many of the items that are out in the classroom, belong to the school, so the look and feel of the room for the children doesn’t need to change, as these items can stay in place until the end of the year. I think that this might make all of us feel better!
Before these courses, I don’t think that I would have spent so much time digging deeper into the reasons behind my actions. Now I don’t just look at the behaviour of our students differently, but I look at mine differently too. Being aware, not only helps me reconsider what I do, but figure out ways to remain calm during challenging times. The calmer I am, the calmer our students are as well.
For months now, I’ve had a self-regulation dialogue running constantly through my mind — I see things, think about things, and reflect on things through this lens — and even as this course ends, I think that this dialogue will continue. I’m a different person now thanks to Stuart Shanker, Susan Hopkins, and the amazing people in our Foundations cohort. Even unknowingly, you’re helping me through this year-end stress, and I’m sure that you’ll also be helping me in the future too. How do you remain calm during stressful times? Who are some people that support you during this process? I hope that we can all give thanks to those people who help us the most!