All good things must come to an end. If you’re a teacher, that means summer break – those fleeting weeks that gave you time to re-energize and re-dedicate yourself to a rewarding, yet demanding profession.
As educators, we all know that first step through those school doors in August represents much more than just teaching kids. It also means staff meetings, team meetings, grade-level meetings, parent conferences, classroom preparation, discipline plans, professional development classes and learning the latest technology. Within the first couple days you’ll hear about the school district’s latest brainstorm and why you absolutely must incorporate it into your lesson plans – pronto. Yep, that enthusiasm and energy level that you vowed to maintain all year is already being tested.
Take a step back, breathe deeply, and make a conscious effort not to let stress trounce you this school year. Think and plan ahead of time – a few simple steps can make a difference.
Decide what time you want to leave school each day and stick to it. Don’t fall into the trap of staying late – it can become a bad habit. Whether you have taught for one year or thirty, you’ll have a never-ending “to do” list and there will always be one more thing you could get done. As my friend’s grandmother used to say, “Enough is enough.”
I admit I learned this lesson the hard way. It doesn’t take long to burn out when you quickly blurt out “yes” every time an administrator or a colleague asks for a favor. Try saying, “Let me think about that and get back to you tomorrow.” Don’t make snap decisions that you will regret and bristle over later. Sure, do your fair share, but don’t get bogged down.
Put Exercise on the Calendar
Decide what works best for you. Maybe it’s an aerobic video in the morning or a trip to the gym after school. Establish a routine and stick to it. Consistent exercise will help you cope with daily pressures. Plan to tell insistent coworkers that you have an “appointment” that can’t be skipped.
Don’t take it all too seriously – lighten up and look for the humor. Share your sense of humor with the students also. It puts them at ease and brightens up everyone’s day. Avoid faculty members who make it their business to complain on an hourly basis.
Prepare for the Next Day
Make a habit of setting up for the following day before you leave school. Then you won’t have to worry about unexpected early morning visits from parents or a copy machine that jams when you only have 5 minutes to run off the worksheets. You’ll start the day on a calm note.
Share the Load
No man is an island. Work together with teachers in your grade or subject level. Divide the labor and share ideas and lesson plans while building camaraderie.