I’m doing my homework online again. One thing we talked about on Friday was the broken windows theory. If someone throws a brick through a few windows in a ‘bad’ neighborhood, it might be easy for someone to just say that they aren’t worth fixing. However, if someone sees a building with broken windows, they might figure that nobody cares about it so they might as well put up some graffiti on that building and the building next door. If someone sees a block with broken windows and graffiti, they might figure it would be a good place to try to sell drugs on the corner. If someone is selling drugs on the corner, a gang may want to try to take control of the territory and so on.

The point is that the broken window is just the first step in a downward spiral. It wouldn’t have taken much to just fix that broken window and prevented everything else from happening, but it starts with recognizing that you do need to sweat the small stuff.

Our directors asked us to come up with three broken windows for ourselves and what we were going to do about them. Sometimes it’s tough coming up with your own shortcomings, particularly those little shortcomings that we could actually be doing something about but don’t for some reason. It’s even tougher sharing them with other people. But admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

Window number #1: I’m a procrastinator. I always get things done, and do a solid job on them, but I’m typing up this ‘homework’ assignment 45 minutes before I need to leave the house to go to work on Monday morning. I’ve thought about all my answers throughout the weekend, but I just didn’t take the time to type them up. Consequently, I’m typing now, will run upstairs to print this out, take a shower, go grab the printout and race out the door. It creates problems for myself on a regular basis. If I’m out of paper or ink in the printer, I will just be screwed. This year, I won’t have a co-teacher in my classroom. Nor will I have an abundance of free time during the school day. So if I procrastinate, I will be putting myself in some very tight situations. So this year, I am going to stay late on Monday afternoons. I do like to leave right away after school normally, but once a week I am going to stay late to make sure that I have prepared everything I need for the week. I think that will help tremendously. Normally I am the type of person that gets to school early, but in the morning I will most likely be worried about the upcoming day only. So Monday morning will be my time to get things ready for the rest of the day, but Monday afternoon will be my time to get things ready for the rest of the week.

Broken window #2: I’m trying to figure out how to put this delicately but can’t seem to find the right words. I’m sort of sloppy when it comes to my appearance. I’m not really big on haircuts or shaving. I don’t own an iron. I’m not too fond of shopping for new clothes. I’m very comfortable with myself and so long as I’m comfortable that’s all that counts, right? Well, not really. I quit smoking before I began student teaching because I knew I was a role model for kids. I’m intensely aware of my language and behavior because I know children are going to be heavily influenced by me. However, I don’t normally apply that idea to my appearance and I need to. These kids are going to be severely disadvantaged in the job market because of their income level and the color of their skin. They need to look meticulous, well groomed and educated to give themselves a fighting chance. I need to set a positive example for them. I may not cut my hair short, but I am going to get regular haircuts this year. I am also going to find my electric razor and keep it in the car so I can shave every single day. I am going to go shopping for new clothes and make sure that I look professional every day. On the weekends, I may still look like a slob, but when I’m working with kids I will look dress like I would expect them to dress.

Broken window #3: I will never have to worry about being too skinny. The summer that I trained for and ran the Chicago marathon, I lost about 6 pounds. However, I’ve always taken pride in the fact that despite my appearance I was at least living healthy. I’ve let that slide tremendously in the last few years. I’ve only run twice this summer and both times it was appalling how quickly I tired out. I know that I have more energy throughout the day when I am exercising regularly and that I have a better outlook on life. This week I am going to start running again. I am going to start small and work my way back up. Lack of exercise can lead to loss of energy, something you really don’t want to be running short on in the classroom. It’s a broken window that can certainly spiral out of control quickly. So I am going to try to address that one now, before the school year begins. I’d go out for a run right now but I have to print this out and race to work! But tonight, I’ll break out an mp3 player and get my feet moving.

Any broken windows of your own? Feel free to share them. It’s actually quite cathartic!