We as teachers tend to not worry about yourselves first. We take care of everyone else and we don’t think we need time for ourselves. The truth is, we do. Something I have learned is that the smallest self-care moments can really improve the entire day. I have found that putting me first actually creates a BETTER me to care for all of those around me. I want that version of myself for them too! This is still a work in progress on my part, but I see a good outcome in each and every step of the way.
Here are some strategies to help prepare yourself to bring your best self into the new school year:
Reflect: Really think about where you were last year and the years before. Think about what you saw working and what did not come together well. Focus on the gaps you know you can fill. Praise yourself for all of the accomplishments you have done.
Focus: Keep your mind set on your own progress. It is very easy to get sucked into the comparisons from teacher to teacher. That will bring on anxieties that you are lacking in areas and need to rush to fill them in. Focusing on your own path will help you see a straight line from beginning to end, instead of a zig zag feeling in all directions.
Prioritize: The beginning of the year can be a rush of everything at once. Think of your big picture. Break up the tasks in order of importance. Work at the big goals first and then fill in the rest as you see fit. Trying to get everything done at once is not productive and will just leave you a sense of hopelessness. Complete one task at a time and then move on to the next.
Smile: Remember when you see your co workers that they too are carrying a heavy load on their back. Smile at those around you to remind yourself and them that we are all working together for the common goal of helping our students to grow and progress to their best potential. The stress we all feel is only because we want to be our best for them! Keeping that thought in mind helps to ease the stress in knowing who all of this work is for.
How to work SMARTER instead of HARDER:
It is easy to feel that if we want to be better, we have to work longer hours and create materials over and over again. Finding simple ways to work smarter instead of harder will really help you feel energized instead of bogged down.
Planning: Plan in a big picture way. Being too detailed in your lesson plans may create a lot of work that you don’t need. Think of how many times lesson plans need to be modified or changed. Create or find a planning template that allows you to note down lesson topics, page numbers, and skills. Use a short, bulleted format that you can quickly read and utilize. Paragraph writing may not be helpful to you or a substitute that may need to fill in for you. Be sure your plans are clear and easy to follow.
Pacing: Create a realistic schedule for your class. Remember to keep in mind how much time is needed to focus on rules and routines. Build in time for socializing and games as well! Creating too tight of a schedule will leave you and the students feeling like you are running a marathon instead of taking in the information and enjoying the day.
Communicate: It is easy to feel like you are alone and have to do it all. Remember your powerful resources and teams around you. Do not hesitate to reach out to colleagues for questions and information. It will save you time on figuring out everything on your own. Also, remember to keep parents in close contact. Building a team with families will benefit the student the most when they see that they have a tight circle of support. You will also feel you have lightened your own load by not trying to do everything on your own.
This year, come back with a positive outlook. The students look to us as teachers for the energy they have and the love of learning we want them to feel. Bringing in your best self each day will help you to carry that energy for the students. It is also great to teach students these strategies to help them keep growing and learning each day.
- Classroom Teacher
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