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Don’t Over Think It

I am notorious for over thinking everything.

I am, after all, an overachiever.

In November, my principal and I met and discussed the upcoming lesson he was going to observe in my classroom.  During our meeting, he told me that one of my strengths was lesson planning.

Ha!

I actually laughed.

Fortunately, he is a kind man, and he did not take my laughter as a sign of rudeness.

I actually laughed because I was shocked.

I told him that lesson planning is the thing I struggle with the most, and he said some very wise words (he is the Principal, after all, and thus must exude wisdom—it’s part of the job description, I think).

He told me, “Nathalie, you over think your lesson plans.”

He was right, of course.

The reason why I over think is because I want things to be perfect.

Fast forward a few weeks to the Reading Endorsement class I had enrolled in.

It was my fourth…the dreaded Differentiated Instruction…which has a reputation for being b-r-u-t-a-l.

I had been dreading it.

It stretched from November to the end of January.

The first six assignments were fairly easy.  A couple of them were lengthy but not difficult on the old noggin.

Then whammo-slammo.

My brain got fried.

The final three assignments were LESSON PLANS.

And not your every day lesson plans.

Oh sure, when you take education courses to become a teacher, you have to write 20-page plans, but the reality of the job is that your lesson plans usually take up one or two pages.

The lesson plans I was being asked told to write were INTENSE.

The first was for phonological awareness/phonics.  High school teachers do not regularly teach these components.  We do build these skills into our lessons, but they usually occur incidentally…not explicitly.

Oy.

I cried and fought and cried some more for four days straight.

I questioned my teaching ability.

Yeah.

It was a grand old pity party.

Then I flashed back to my principal’s words…”You over think your lessons.”

I flashed further back to my friend, Maegan’s words last summer when I was taking the at-the-time-most-dreaded-class Assessments.  She said, “Don’t over think it.”  I didn’t and finished the class in two weeks, only having to re-do one itsy part of one assignment.

So, I stopped over thinking, and I got through it.  I cried tears of joy when I learned that my  lesson plan had been approved.

On to the second lesson plan – fluency/comprehension.

My kids do fluency practice twice a week, but once again, I do not explicitly teach it.

Oy!

This time, though, I was comfortable with the format of the lesson plan.

It’s very detailed.

Teachers have to write in EVERYTHING…everything they say…every way they model lessons…every way students practice, both in groups and independently…and the way students with special needs are accommodated.

This time, it only took me twelve or thirteen hours to complete the lesson…one entire fuzzy white robed day.

The plan was approved a couple of days later.

I had not over thought the plan.

This past Saturday, I woke up with grand plans…to write the final lesson plan – vocabulary/comprehension.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love vocabulary.

I could eat, sleep, and breathe it.

The problem?

I didn’t want to act all full of myself.

They say that pride goeth before the fall.

There were so many vocabulary strategies to choose from!  Plus, the requirements are that both components are tied together somehow…that they naturally scaffold into each other.

I set up shop on the couch, in my white fuzzy robe, and proceeded to spend another twelve hours pecking away at my keyboard while pulling the right words from my brain.

I tried so hard not to over think.

The good thing?

I did not cry one single time.

That’s progress, People, progress!

Then, I turned it in and waited.

For two days.

On Tuesday evening, I received an email that said that my lesson plan had been approved and that my students were lucky to have me!

I love my teacher.

She always provided encouraging feedback on every lesson plan…within the document itself.

Here are a couple of snapshots so you can see what I mean (click the pictures to make them larger).  Please note that what I typed is on the left (each and every word…those are MINE!!!).  My instructor’s comments are on the right, in blue (gotta love Microsoft Word!!).

As you can see, there’s a lot more to being a reading teacher than helping students learn how to sound out words!

I am elated that I am finished with this class.  I have ONE more class to take before I will have my Reading Endorsement.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until either summer or fall to take that last class.  That’s okay, though.  I’m starting an ESOL class in a couple of weeks…the first of either three or five (I’m still waiting to find out…there’s a bit of an issue about how many classes Reading Endorsement students have to take when getting ESOL endorsement).

Either way, I’m another step closer to being done with lengthy coursework.

Learning not to over think is a lot like teaching myself to RELAX.  It’s a daily struggle.  That sounds so silly, but for an overachiever, I struggle not against other people but against my expectations for myself.

Learning not to over think is a purposeful act that completely goes against my grain.

By golly, I will master this, of that I am sure, so that I won’t burn out and can offer more of my heart to the students I am privileged to serve.

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