Teaching is a rewarding profession. Teaching is an amazing, fulfilling, dynamic profession. Teaching can also be a draining, depressing and stressing profession. How do we stay afloat? There are many simple things we can do in order to keep ourselves thrilled about waking up each morning and working with the future leaders of our society.
1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You will make mistakes, lots of them. If you are able to understand that teaching is about trial and error, about growth and learning, you will feel happier. All teachers make mistakes – analyze what works well and what does not and use that understanding to continue to improve. Analyze, DON’T self-criticize.
2. Find colleagues you can trust. Supportive colleagues who can offer tips, a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on and a cheerleading section when you are successful are SO important. These colleagues will become your closest friends, after all – you spend more of your waking hours at work teaching than anywhere else.
3. Stay away from gossip and mean girls/ mean boys clubs. You know what I am talking about. Just. Stay. Away. Don’t humor them, and certainly don’t become them. If you are near gossip or gripe sessions that you know are not productive or have the potential to harm others – walk away. Don’t play any part in it. This can drag you and others down fast – and it is not pretty.
4. Love your students. I mean LOVE your students. Particularly LOVE the students that are hard to love, they need it the most. Find something in them, anything in them, to focus on. There is always something good in every child. Focus on that and remember the frustrating students – the ones that take all your time and are not always appreciative – those are the students that need you the most, even when they are telling you they hate you and want you out of their life.
5. Support parents. Parents are less scary when they understand you care about their child. Caring does not always mean agreeing with them, but it means partnering in the best interest of their child. It helps to remember that parents come with as much or more baggage than we have (yes, admit it – we have TONS of baggage ourselves!) School may have been hard for them, they may be scared to be in your presence. Letting them know you care lessons the divide between parent and teacher and helps create critical relationships.
6. Smile. Your smile may be the only smile your students see all day. Smile a lot, it is catchy and can even make you feel better if you are having a rough day.
7. Take your lunch break. A pause in the middle of the day is healthy for all of us. We have labor laws for a reason – let them protect you and allow you to take a breath and regain your focus for the remainder of the day.
8. Keep your life balanced. If your life is all about school, even if you love it so much it is your hobby, you are not balanced. Make sure you balance work with time with family, friends, attendance at church or taking classes at a local gym. Don’t forget about your hobbies – run, knit, play in a band – even if you are dead tired when you get home. Doing these things will ultimately keep you going.
9. Get enough sleep. If you are exhausted you cannot be there for your students or yourself and you are more susceptible to the viruses that breed in schools (which are often germ factories). Wash your hands too – a LOT – especially before you eat anything! Even that one piece of chocolate in the teacher’s lounge!
10. Be thankful. At the end of each day, think of one thing you are thankful for. Gratitude, even on small levels, lessons burnout.
11. Have FUN. Kids are fun, and they are FUNNY – enjoy the time you have with them and make sure to share all those precious moments you experience with them.
12. Reach out for help if you need it. Call a colleague, speak to your principal, find a counselor – do whatever it takes to get the support you need. We can’t afford to lose you – we need committed teachers to stay teaching.
Do you have additional advice? Please share it in the comments section!