I’m sure you’ve seen all the different memes on Facebook and Instagram about ways to be happier and ways to live a better life. I believe that teachers especially need to be sure we are happy with our lives and our jobs. I always tell my husband that if I don’t <3 LOVE <3 what I do anymore, I really shouldn’t do it. If there ever comes a day when I don’t WANT to go to work (more than just the usual Monday blues), that I don’t need to do it anymore. If there ever comes an August where I’m not excited to put my room back together and I’m not eager to meet my new students, I should just throw in the towel and hang up my whistle. I love my job and I’ll do what it takes to make sure it stays that way!!
Here are a few tips that I have for anyone who wants to reset how they feel.
You can organize your classroom, you can set up your lesson plans, you can have everything laid out. But in the end, you can’t control everything around you. You can only control what you do and what you think. There is always going to be a kid that doesn’t qualify for a certain program and you’ll spend your conference period crying in your AP’s office with that kid’s mom (been there). Or you might have a parent who refuses to like you and your teaching no matter what you do and all you can do is smile and bite your tongue and hope he changes his mind (done that). You’ll lose sleep at night and you’ll question your life’s path. But the bottom line is that you can’t control that parent that doesn’t like you and you can’t control the extra paperwork your district is requiring. You also can’t control the standards or the testing. I’ve spent many an afternoon with my team getting worked up over such things… and did it help? No. All I can truly control is how I react to things and how I let things affect me. I’m a lot happier when I remember that.
We all want to be helpful. We all want to be team players. But sometimes, you really have to say “NO”. In my interview at my current school, my principal told me that his motto for every staff member was “Family and health come first”. To me, that includes mental health- which is where saying no comes into play. Stop taking on too many extras. I’ve seen at some schools where it is only a certain handful of teachers that do all of the extra stuff- and that isn’t right. I know it’s hard, but it feels good to say no when you really need to.
Being in a hurry is natural. We have SO much that we have to get done! It’s hard not to rush through things. However, speeding through everything makes it very hard for students to feel cared about and it allows for routines to be forgotten. Slow down! Make sure you aren’t doing TOO much in a day. Lessons and materials should be all about quality- not quantity. Lots of ‘activities’ don’t mean much if they aren’t thorough and in-depth.
Have you ever had a parent email you in the evenings and expect a response that same evening? How about a colleague who calls you for something on the weekends? Most of the time, I don’t mind those things. I enjoy being available to my parents and coworkers. But there was a time last school year where I was downright stressed to open my school email when I was at home. I had a parent who constantly complained and I just couldn’t bear the thought of her sending me ANOTHER email. I had to delete my email app off of my phone that year and only check my emails when I was prepared to deal with her. I could have just dealt with her at all times of the day, but I had to set boundaries that would keep me sane. Find what works for you- whether it is unplugging, leaving school at a set time no matter what, or dedicating a certain window to non-school related stuff.
Find someone who isn’t in your field to vent to. But make sure you put a time limit on it! We ALL need to get it out. There is no shame in that. For me, when my husband just listens for a few minutes is what makes me feel better. He isn’t a teacher, he doesn’t know what ARD or IEP or RTI or PLC stand for, but he listens and it makes me feel better. The reason I say to pick someone who isn’t in the education field is because those people- your teacher friends- they have their own issues and they are too similar to yours! I think those teacher friends are a great choice for advice & for words of wisdom, but leave your griping to someone else. Your mom, your best friends, your sister, your dog.
I don’t know what I’d do if my husband were a teacher too. I’d probably spend a lot more time than I already do talking to my dogs.
This is just my little ole opinion that I base on my personal experiences and what has helped me keep my sanity and still love my job. If you have any other tips to add, I’d love to read them in the comments below! :) Thanks!