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Get Caught on Your Toes

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

May is a powerful month for me on a personal level. Let's do a quick run down on why "May" has such an impact on me.

1. May is when "Mother's Day" occurs.

2. My mom passed away (when I was quite young) on May 18th.

3. Mother's Day always reminds me of what a warrior of a woman my mom was.

4. Mother's Day reminds me today of how lucky I am to have found the wife and mom of my four beautiful children.

And while my mom taught me many things, one of her greatest lessons was this: being caught in a reactive state (more often than not) will not lead to optimal outcomes. Well, I'd say she was spot on.

Let's go back in history a bit to see what I mean. You see my mom (and I) were told when I was in 2nd grade that she was going to die sooner rather than later due to Hodgkin's disease. However, she obviously had other thoughts. Somehow she managed to not only live until May 18th of my 8th grade year; in those interim 6 years, she worked extra night shifts as a nurse. At the time, I had no idea why. However, after she passed I came to find out she knew she wanted me to be able to go to college. This feat (amongst many others) is incredible for anyone, much less a single mother battling a debilitating form of cancer.

She knew college was expensive; she knew she would not be around to see me get to high school, much less college; she made a plan and saw it through. She refused to remain on her heels (so to speak), refused to get caught off guard and knocked back. She stood strong and pushed ahead with a clear plan of action up until her final months.

This is just one of the many gifts my mom left me as part of her legacy. If you allow yourself to be caught on your heels, you're proverbially screwed more often than not. Now, this isn't Hollywood and I know that there aren't always happy endings and that every issue cannot be wrapped up in a nice, little bow. Life is going to clip you time and again. She's good at that. However, I'm certain there are many things in your life that maybe require a closer look. And maybe, just maybe . . . by looking at whatever these are, you may be more prepared if this particular issue raises its little head.

I touched on this in Chapter 14 (Breakdown) in my book, and how as an educator, I can be more prepared for a variety of likely scenarios that may be encountered in a typical school year.

And my friends, this is where your workout comes in. Time to go to work.

Step 1: Visualize and make a list of possible/likely breakdown scenarios either in your place of work or life in general.

Step 2: With your list from Step 1, conduct quick assessment on the likelihood of these happening any time soon. Number 1 would be most likely to occur and so on.

*Below you can see the example from my book regarding classroom breakdown scenarios along with their rankings.

Step 3: With your Number 1 (above) at the ready, it's time to conduct a risk analysis assessment. This analysis assumes Plan A is not happening (i.e. my mom living to see me off to college).

Hence, in this assessment, make a list of what critical functions you would like maintained if this "scenario" is forced into action.

*Below you can see the example from my book regarding my classroom breakdown risk assessment along with critical functions to maintain.

Step 4: Whatever "scenario" (your Number 1) may be, once you are aware of what 'critical functions' you feel necessary, it's time to MAKE A PLAN OF ACTION! When you are ready, fill in the items below on a piece of paper (or whatever); but make sure you COMMIT to getting the plan in writing.

A. Goal - (Your plan's goal. For example, for my classroom examples, my goal is for the students to be engaged and work well for the substitute.)

B. Trigger - (What trigger/occurrence will put this plan into action. For example, for my classroom examples, my trigger is being out sick.)

C. Big Picture - (Try to make sure your plan cover everyone's needs; it should not focus solely on you. For my classroom scenario, my big picture is to have legitimate lesson plans [not busy work] for the students to work on in my absence.)

D. Victory - (Define what your victory is. How or when will you know that it is time to return to a normal routine? For my classroom scenario, my victory would be receiving a positive substitute report.)

E. Intentions Shared - If needed, share your intentions with all invested parties. Do not keep your plan a secret; especially if the 'victory' requires assistance/help from others. For my classroom scenario, I would definitely share my plan with the students. Their behavior is paramount for 'victory'.

F. Practice Needed - If need be, practice your plan of action. For my scenario, I actually have role-played a day as a substitute for them to practice/model what I expect from them for my plan to be successful.

Remember, we cannot be ready and prepared for everything. It's beyond realistic. However, by planning for some more than likely scenarios, some burdens can be lifted if and more than likely, when these issues arrive.


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