Being proactive vs reactive can be the difference between being miserable in the classroom on a daily basis, or looking at the big picture and taking steps that will take you into the long term feeling a greater sense of job satisfaction for the future.
Is this you most days?
Do any of these happen to you on a regular basis?
- You receive a memo about 15 minutes before you start your day letting you know about the change in schedule for today
- There is an unannounced fire drill during your testing time
- Immediately following independent reading time, your classroom library is trashed – and the students have already made their way to specials
- The copy machine is jammed. Again.
- At lunchtime, your soup splatters all over your pants when trying to get it out of the staff lounge microwave
- A student randomly starts shouting during your formal observation
- “Johnny’s” mom comes walking through your classroom door determined to have a serious talk about his math grade, while you are in the middle of the morning meeting
- Two students are horse-playing in the corner and accidentally knock over a huge stack of papers all over the ground you have yet to file
- You need chocolate, aspirin, and perhaps an adult beverage – and it isn’t even 10 am yet.
What does proactive teaching even mean?
Some days are going to feel like the cards are stacked against you no matter what you do. It doesn’t matter who you are or what job you do – those days will happen.
The question to ask yourself is “On average, how often do those days occur?”
If you are having more stressful days than satisfactory days, perhaps it’s time to reflect on ourselves. It’s the one thing we ALWAYS have control over.
Proactive Teachers vs Reactive Teachers
If you constantly feel as though you are swimming upstream, you are taking on reactive characteristics. And that takes a toll on your mood, self-worth, and happiness. Believe it or not, those feelings will transfer to your students too. They can sense when you are struggling. Classroom environment and behavior management really takes a hit when the teacher is not on his or her A-game.
Proactive teachers realize that there will be unexpected events throughout the day, but she has a plan for addressing the surprises. He knows if A happens, he will do B. There are very few reasons to panic throughout the day if you have created a contingency plan.
Proactive teachers are less stressed and are far more flexible. At the end of the day, the proactive teacher feels great about how the day went. She knows there are some things she can change, and she took the positive steps to work towards those changes. And she knows there are things that she cannot change – but she does have control as to how she reacts to those items.
I don’t know about you, but I personally feel terrible at the end of the day if I feel I had no control over my students, my schedule, my teaching, or even my thoughts. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than feeling powerless. We all need to feel success on some level – and knowing you did the best you could when the unexpected happens because you had control over the actions you took gives you that feeling of small wins.
We can’t be effective teachers if we are feeling behind the 8-ball all day every day.
It is time to be proactive and take back control of your classroom, if nothing else. You owe it to your students, but most of all, you owe it to yourself to feel good about your choices, even when it seems like all choice is gone. I am here to tell you control has not been taken away from you – how you choose to work within your options is where your control really lives.
Choose to be the proactive teacher.
Are you usually proactive or reactive? Share with us in the comments below so others know they are not alone. Talk to you soon,