Failing to plan is planning to fail – or so the saying goes. But sometimes, even with all the planning, things will go wrong. The computer won’t work, an activity is not as engaging as you had hoped, or maybe even the weather prevents you from doing something you had planned. Whatever it is, the best piece of advice I can give you is to just keep calm, maintain your composure, and be ready to adapt and adjust at the drop of a hat.
The second best piece of advice I can give you is to read my list on 5 Ways to Cope When Things Go Wrong in the Classroom (a list based on experience and advice and feedback from my good friend, and one of the best elementary school teachers I have ever met, Theo. Check out our discussion on a separate topic - Motivation and Goals).
1. Keep calm and take a minute to compose yourself: This will allow you to think more clearly and afford you a better opportunity to adapt to the situation.
2. Rethink: Is the disruption or problem really such a big deal? Sometimes problems are not problems – they are opportunities. Too often we get so caught up worrying about what has just gone wrong instead of putting that same energy into thinking about how we can turn a problem into a teaching point, lesson, or a solution.
3. Be fluid: A plan is just that – a plan. It is not one of the Ten Commandments set in stone. It is just a plan. You are allowed to change plans (see point 5). The students might be a little disappointed if they miss out on doing outdoor activities due to rain etc., but this can’t be helped. Being fluid and dynamic is part of being a teacher – as you become more experienced you will usually find these challenges are nothing more than small annoyances.
4. Many problems are not really problems: When things go wrong teachers often think they have failed their students. This is usually not true. And I will tell you why. Usually the students don’t even know there is a problem (E.g. You forgot to bring a presentation file to class that you had worked on all night. Now, you think this is a problem because your lesson is RUINED! Right? Wrong (usually)! See, YOU know you forgot the file, but your students don’t. They have no idea (usually). This being true, you can just change the way you are going to present the lesson – or do a different activity and teach that awesome presentation file tomorrow.
Don’t make mountains out of molehills. It really serves no purpose.
5. Have a backup plan: As you become more experienced you will have an entire range of ideas and backup plans to draw from – but initially it is a really good idea to have a couple of lesson plans in your back pocket just in case you need them.
If all else fails – smile and don’t take it to heart. We all have bad days
I hope this advice helps you navigate situations more effectively (and with less stress) and helps you to cope when things go wrong in the classroom.
If you enjoyed reading this post and have any ideas that you would like to share then please post a comment of your own below – I would love to hear from you.
Have a great day and thanks for reading.
Keep English Real!