From Overdone to Overcome: Tips for Overcoming the Fall Wall

“Overdone” could have been my new middle name. I was in bed before 6 p.m. on two consecutive Fridays that October. After all, our superintendent warned us about the “Fall Wall,” and teachers were already calling it “Rock-tober.” How could I retain my positivity and show up every day for my students and teachers while I was so exhausted? 

If you’ve ever felt like it’s been difficult to motivate your team, your students, or yourself, then you’re not alone. At this point in the year, students and families who are new to Summit Learning often have questions as they turn in their projects and see the blue line pass their first power focus areas. It can be challenging to maintain a growth mindset when students are not quite “getting it” yet. That’s why we’re writing today with two tips to stay resilient during the “Fall Wall” when the going gets tough.

(1) Generate a Short-Term Win as a Team

Is all of your hard work paying off for students? Are we doing this right? Ambiguity is inherent in trying an innovative instructional practice, which makes goal-setting with your team a powerful opportunity to define success together. Collaboratively reaching a goal builds momentum and self-efficacy for educators.

Here are examples of short-term wins that sustain momentum and highlights success: 

  1. Host a project night for your community to showcase students’ skills.
  2. Encourage students to set consistent, weekly goals.
  3. Offer informal workshops on cognitive skills or learning strategies bi-weekly.
  4. Set a schedule to mentor every mentee each week.

Commit to one milestone at a time so your team has a clear path to success. Success begets further success. Leverage your team’s renewed confidence and self-efficacy to reach for the next milestone. 

(2) Plan for Positivity

Have you heard that smiles are contagious? Establishing a sense of belonging amongst students and educators produces a fun, compassionate learning environment for all.

For students: Build a community rooted in academic achievement. Consider hosting a student awards ceremony to acknowledge students who demonstrated significant growth in their cognitive skills or in their Habits of Success.

For school leaders and teachers: Consider having a school leader tally all of the awesome teacher actions and share out the total number at the end of a positivity week. Also, planning a lunchtime social event like a crockpot competition keeps school a fun place to work.

It can also be helpful to call out negative mindsets and actions that hold the team back from reaching the school’s vision. Modeling a growth mindset and resilience offers positive cuing to school staff to follow suit. If asked, share strategies for stress-management to highlight the importance of awareness and self-care. Hear and empathize with others’ struggles, and then keep the conversation focused on solutions, not problems.

With these two tips, you’ll be ready to turn “overdone” into “overcome.” You’ve got this!

About the author

Jared Fries
Jared B. Fries (JBF) is a School & District Success Manager at Summit Learning where he supports school leaders and teachers with their program implementation. JBF started his career as a teacher and then a school leader. Passionate about building habits and skills in students, JBF brought his energy to Harvard University's Graduate School of Education to research change management frameworks that support education innovations. He put research into practice as a district leader through an Education Pioneers Fellowship in New Orleans, before joining Summit Learning four years ago.