Welcome 2012!!!! I hope you had a restful and joyful holiday and are ready to start anew ... Again!

W. Clemet Stone who wrote the book "Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude", stated, "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve." "It's not a tragedy not to achieve your dream, it's a tragedy not to have a dream." Always keep that in mind and instill it in your students.

I know you experienced some highs and lows in the first term/first part of the year - and sometimes a predictable cycle of feeling used and abused. Understanding these periods and their stages can help your performance, disposition and state of mind.

There are 4 stages and you may have experienced them or know of colleagues who have, during the first term or throughout the year.

Stage One - Exhilaration and High Energy - this is usually felt at the beginning of each year. You rise to the challenge of handling the workload and pressure and handle them efficiently. You are creative, have a sense of humour, and all is right with the world.

Stage Two - Mechanical Takeover - there's a robot-like takeover in doing routine tasks. We withdraw, avoid overload, creativity and sense of humour dwindle. We develop a one track mind.

Stage Three - Annoyance, Hostility and Anger - Be careful when this stage appears as it is a dangerous one. Tempers and egos are stretched beyond the breaking point and actions/reactions can have a permanent effect on everyone. Cutting remarks are stated, self-centered attitudes arise, resentment for working long hours and feelings of total lack of appreciation of our efforts. We may even question if the job of teaching is worth it to us anymore.

Stage Four - Recovery Period - In this stage, you feel things are more manageable and you don't remember the workload being so difficult once recovery begins. However, it's important to take steps to prepare so that the cycle doesn't begin again; especially Stage 3, the dangerous one. If we remain in stage 3, we may never reach the recovery stage.

If you recognize these stages of yourself, talk with others privately. If you realize that a colleague is in this critical period, make sure you don't shut them out. It will affect their relationships, attitude and behaviour. It's vital that they talk with someone to develop a plan. They need to know there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Devising a plan helps in 3 ways:

1. Steers them away from the mechanical takeover (stage 2).
2. Provides help to resolve their problem(s).
3. It shows that you believe in them and shows you as a caring peer and not a critic.

Our help must be continual and persistent. They need to feel appreciated and receive recognition.

Doing common things uncommonly well makes for a GREAT teacher. Allow your colleagues to "toot their own horn" - professionally, which will prevent feelings of being used and abused. This could take the lows out of teaching altogether.

Here are some of the key characteristics for an effective teacher/colleague.

1. Take time to listen to people.
2. Let them know that you are there for them.
3. Display genuine care.
4. "All for one, one for all" (3 Musketeers) mentality.
5. Be part of a team.
6. Make decisions affecting potential, ambition, and hope for others.
7. Celebrate daily, weekly and monthly.
8. Take a back seat for others to shine.
9. Encourage others to take risks.
10. Create a future one day at a time.

After reading this newsletter over again, it seems pretty heavy duty. As I said in the beginning, it's a new year and another term. Be very aware of all of these stages. However, my new year's wish for you is to remain in the first stage (exhilaration and high energy) all year long.

"What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner" - Colette

Good luck, Happy New Year and may the games begin ... again!!

Happy trails,


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