These tips were developed for back to school, but really they are appropriate at any time of year. Maintaining a positive outlook is a key element to preventing burnout, holding off stress, and just overall making your life good throughout the year.
Let’s face it, as I’ve said before, three quarters of happiness and stress management is in our heads. It’s about keeping yourself in a positive outlook and focused on a bigger purpose.
But how? Well that’s a whole other question. It’s so easy to say...not so easy to do. So, this year, I developed tips of things you can do to keep you on the positive side of the mountains we climb.
Yes, getting enough rest is important for health reasons. But there are other reasons. If you work constantly, you lose perspective, you wear yourself out, and you'll burn yourself out. And then you will have nothing to offer your students, your colleagues, your family or yourself.
It doesn't matter if your room is perfect if you have no energy left to teach.
So make sure that you are getting enough rest. And by rest, I mean not just sleep but stepping away from the computer, the lesson plans or the bulletin boards and doing something else.
Cook dinner. Play with your kids. Read a book. Just make sure that each day you have some time to do something that gives you peace or allows you to step away. In the end, you'll be a better teacher for it.
This is one that helps both your classroom and you. The best thing you can do for you classroom, especially at the beginning of the year, is to take time to reflect on what is working and what is not. This gives you time to think about whether what you are doing is working or not. It reduces stress because it helps you focus on the things that are working as well as those you may want to change.
Each day, sit down with whatever team you have available to you, and talk about how the day went. Figure out what you might need to change and what you want to keep doing. Talk about what’s working, not just the problems.
Maybe it's a matter of smaller tweaks. Maybe there are lots of things you need to change. If that's the case, approach it systematically, one step at a time. Don't feel that you have to overhaul the classroom completely each day. That will make it harder to figure out what is working and what is not.
Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in putting out fires or rushing from detail to detail that we miss the opportunity to be proactive. Setting up a routine of reflection makes sure that you take the time to proactive.
This one seems a little obvious, and sometimes we get more than enough exercise in the course of the day. But sometimes exercise can be the best way of coping with a bad day, a bad week or just the uncertainty of what to do next. Step away and move more. You'll be less tired during the day and have more energy at the end of the day.
4. LOOK FOR THE LIGHT
So much of what affects us in the classroom has to do with how we look at it. We can make ourselves, and those around us, miserable, simply by focusing on all the negatives of the job and the environment.
I'm not saying we need to be a Polly Anna and everything is really unicorns and rainbows all day long. We know it's not. But how we perceive the challenges and negative things that happen has a lot to do with whether we make it better or worse.
Think about it in terms of students' behavior. If we view their behavior as a symptom of their difficulties with communication or self-regulation, we address it by teaching them better ways to get their needs met. If we view their behavior as willful manipulation or disrespect, we get angry and offended. We take it more personally.
The same is true for most things. It might be the challenges your classroom is presenting this year. Looking at it as a challenge or a puzzle that you have to figure out, plus believing that you can master it, leads to action and a positive outlook. Looking at it as overwhelming difficult, and unfair does not lead to avenues of action. Instead, it just overwhelms you and you want to give up. and worse, you think you can't do it.
Are you admiring the problem and just seeing how difficult it is? Or are you doing something about it?
5. YOU ARE CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN
Seriously, you are CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN. I know that sounds dramatic. But, running a classroom is a lot like climbing. It requires that you be prepared. You take your time. You problem solve to figure out the best place to put your feet and hands. It's hard work. You rarely can do it alone. AND you are tackling a very big task. Take it one step at a time.
YOU CAN DO THIS! Just because you don't make it to the top overnight doesn't mean you can't do it. KEEP CLIMBING!
The community within the Special Educator Academy sparked most of the ideas for this post, come check us out. Our community is positive, supportive and designed to help teachers feel less isolated.
Until next time,