Shift and Change

A couple of years ago I embarked on a string of changes at the professional level which then impacted me at a personal level. Though I began with bright flames of enthusiasm, gradually I found it difficult to keep it alive and burning; in fact even the embers were dying. So much so that, I thoroughly felt overwhelmed! Months later, a delectable spread of choicest motivational reading, conscious and deliberate positive affirmations and self talk, a never-say-die attitude, nurturing support from my wonderful family, months of introspection and acceptance of change helped me tide over this difficult phase.

Change is the only constant! It happens all the time. Yet, we stumble. Sadly it is true that no school teaches change management nor is there any crash course to make us seasoned veterans. Why is change so very difficult to manage?

Our belief system plays a vital role in managing change. It is the proverbial question – is the glass half full or half empty? How do we look at issues that call for change – as problems or as challenges? What is our attitude – do we resist change or do we embrace it? Do we see it as a negative thing that is singling us out or as a positive curve that will help us grow into better, holistic persons?

A wine grower named Giorgio called for his two sons Anton and Vitto and told them he would have to test each of them in order to decide who was best qualified to take charge of the property when he retired. The two young men were very different: Anton was daring and mischievous, always smiling and friendly, while his brother was taciturn and hard-working, but entirely devoid of emotion.

The father gave them each a vine seedling and said:”I want you to choose the place that you think has the best conditions for your vine to grow. The one who harvests the best grapes a few years from now will take control of the property.”

Anton was in no hurry to get started. “I have a lot of time before I have to start looking around. A vine grows slowly, and only yields grapes after four years anyway.”
Vitto knew that too, but he decided to find the best place to plant his vine right away. He planted his seedling on a parcel of land facing south, on top of a rocky hill. Anton made fun of him, saying: “You idiot, you chose the worst possible location! A hilltop facing south make the leaves shrivel and burn and soil full of rocks won’t allow the roots to grow. You won’t get any grapes from that vine at all!”
Four years later the father once again summoned his two sons so he could taste their fruit.

Anton’s basket was filled with beautiful, juicy grapes, while Vitto’s basket held only a few small grapes. Giorgio picked two grapes from each basket and tasted them in silence. The ones from Anton’s basket were filled with seeds and their size was due to all the water they contained.

“Tasteless,” his father said. But when Giorgio tasted Vitto’s grapes his face lit up with pleasure. “These grapes are small but they’re bursting with flavour,” he exclaimed. “Their juice will produce excellent wine. This is very good work. How did you do it, my son?”
“I followed a simple principle,” Vitto replied. “Like people, vines only yield good fruit when challenged with adversity.”

We may sometimes wonder why we have to put up with so many obstacles in life. Change brings to us things that make us work harder – and they are really great life lessons. As we move along the path of life, we need to learn more lessons and emerge as better, stronger people. These events form our character and make us the persons we are today. 

Wisdom therefore lies in accepting change; so let us be prepared to confront whatever Destiny places on our path, and use it to emerge stronger! Let us bloom where we are planted, for there are more lessons for us to learn! Let us go with the flow and realize ‘this too will pass away’! This can make things easy for us and then are able to lead a life with lot more less stress – a definite plus to us and to our loved ones around.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

Maya Angelou

What successful teachers have…

1. Sense of Humor
A sense of humor can help you become a successful teacher. Your sense of humor can relieve tense classroom situations before they become disruptions. A sense of humor will also make class more enjoyable for your students and possibly make students look forward to attending and paying attention. Most importantly, a sense of humor will allow you to see the joy in life and make you a happier person as you progress through this sometimes stressful career.

2. A Positive Attitude
A positive attitude is a great asset in life. You will be thrown many curve balls in life and especially in the teaching profession. A positive attitude will help you cope with these in the best way. For example, you may be teaching Grade 10 instead of Grade 11 / 12. This would not be an ideal situation, but a teacher with the right attitude would try to focus on getting through without negatively impacting the students.

3. High Expectations
An effective teacher must have high expectations. You should strive to raise the bar for your students. If you expect less effort you will receive less effort. You should work on an attitude that says that you know students can achieve to your level of expectations, thereby giving them a sense of confidence too. This is not to say that you should create unrealistic expectations. However, your expectations will be one of the key factors in helping students learn and achieve.

4. Consistency
In order to create a positive learning environment your students should know what to expect from you each day. You need to be consistent. This will create a safe learning environment for the students and they will be more likely to succeed. It is amazing that students can adapt to teachers throughout the day that range from strict to easy. However, they will dislike an environment in which the rules are constantly changing.

5. Fairness
Many people confuse fairness and consistency. A consistent teacher is the same person from day to day. A fair teacher treats students equally in the same situation. For example, students complain of unfairness when teachers treat one student or a group of students differently. It would be terribly unfair to go easier on the football players in a class than on the cheerleaders. Students pick up on this so quickly, so be careful of being labelled unfair.

6. Flexibility
One of the tenets of teaching should be that everything is in a constant state of change. Interruptions and disruptions are the norm and very few days are ‘typical’. Therefore, a flexible attitude is important not only for your stress level but also for your students who expect you to be in charge and take control of any situation.