'Streeter Seidell, Comedian' photo (c) 2005, Zach Klein - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This has been a challenging year for me in the classroom. My classes, as do most at our 100% free lunch school, always have a considerable number of students facing multiple difficult challenges, but this year the number and severity was noticeably larger than usual.

I’ll go into it more in-depth in a post after the school year is done in two weeks and I have a little more distance. However, I read a short article today that shared some wisdom that I hope to carry into these final two weeks and beyond.

I pride myself at being very patient, not being reactive, and being able to “get over” things quickly, but I’ve become a bit worn down by the classroom challenges of this year, and have sometimes not done a good job of not letting my sense of feeling frustrated at one student or class spill over to how I treat other students and other classes.

I’ve previously posted some ways I deal with these issues at What Do You Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At School?

Today, I read a useful short article titled Keep Calm & Carry On.

The author offered two suggestions on how to move beyond feeling frustrated that I think are helpful. Here’s one:

Mr. Loehr was describing something he had observed in the best tennis players – namely that they were meticulous about renewing themselves in the 20 to 30 seconds between points. The first thing these players did when a point ended was to turn away from the net. I loved the metaphor: Turn away from the net. Let it go.

When I’m feeling frustrated, I try to become more conscious of my breathing and slow down, but it’s sometimes hard to remember. I think this metaphor of “turning away from the net” could an effective reminder.

Here’s his other idea related to Adam Grant (see my previous posts about his work here). Grant’s research suggests a simple, and not new, idea:

…that people who give without expecting anything in return actually turn out not only to feel better for having done so, but also to be more successful. Giving, Mr. Grant explains, does not require extraordinary acts of sacrifice. It simply involves a focus on acting in the interests of others.

The author of the article, Tony Schwartz, describes feeling frustrated in an airport and applying Grant’s research by asking people how they were doing, hearing one person respond “I need a cup of coffee,” and then just going to get one for her.

I’m wondering if I could get into that kind of pattern — anytime I have a frustrating experience with a student or class, get into the habit of intentionally doing something “nice” (and out of the ordinary kind of “nice”) for another student or another class? It could be simple — for example, if I see that a student is not feeling well and has been getting up and getting facial tissue from the box in front, I could just bring the box to him/her once and ask if they needed one. Just a thought….

What are your strategies for “keeping calm and carrying on”?