Friday, May 11, 2007

Be Positive About Yourself and Your Profession

Organize Your Time and Your Activities
1. Set realistic and flexible professional goals and objectives.
2. Establish priorities.
3. Leave your work at school.
4. Pace yourself.
5. Use available human resources.
6. Organize your classroom.

Be Open to Change, Innovation, and New Opportunities
Be Positive About Yourself and Your Profession
11. Allow a "moment of glory." Too often, schools are not very positive places to be. Students, supervisors, parents, and colleagues do not often tell you what a great job you're doing. It is, therefore, important for special educators and special services personnel to accept and acknowledge positive feedback. When someone does praise you, don't reject it. We are very good at allowing false modesty ("I didn't really do anything special") or embarrassment to rob us of our just rewards. A response like, "Yes, I really worked hard and it's gratifying to see the results; it means a lot to me that you've noticed," will not only allow you your moment of glory but will encourage the person gracious enough to bestow some positive reinforcement on a fellow human being.
12. Look for the "silver lining." It is often helpful to seek out the "silver lining" in an otherwise dismal situation. As a consultant to regular classroom teachers, it is not unheard of to walk into a classroom that has received hours of your support only to find calamity prevailing. At that point it is easy to give up in total frustration. A better alternative, however, is to try to find some glimmer of hope in that situation (e.g., "It could have been worse if I hadn't been there; her behavior management techniques were terrible but she was teaching a good lesson.") or to immediately go to another classroom where the teacher has succeeded by implementing your recommendations.
13. Become directly involved. In many cases, working directly to deal with the issues that cause problems can be both therapeutic and productive. Become active in your professional association to institute desired changes. Work with CEC's Political Action Network to influence state and federal legislation. Becoming a member of an inservice training advisory board, curriculum committee, or a task force of the local teachers association may allow you to effectively deal with problems causing stress for yourself and your colleagues. On the other hand, resigning from a committee that is causing frustration or is simply wasting your time, can also be therapeutic.
14. Remember the children you serve. Remember why you have chosen to be a special education teacher or member of the special services staff. Focus on the personal, professional, and philosophical reasons that give meaning to your working hours. Keeping your thoughts on the handicapped children you serve, your pride in professional accomplishments, and your empathy for those who society often rejects, will help you cope with a narrow minded principal, difficult parents, an inane meeting, or the endless paperwork that passes through your hands.

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