It’s the start of a new school year…excitement, challenges, classroom set-up, professional development, meetings, forms, IEPs, standards, meetings, weekly or daily focus walls, lesson plans to be submitted weeks in advance, meetings, classroom management plans, etc. You get my drift! You begin to feel lost in maze of meetings and a jungle of forms that all needed to be turned in yesterday! And it’s only the few first weeks of school!!! YIKES!
No, I’m not just talking to new teachers…I felt the same way year after year as a veteran teacher. It took me years to figure out how to deal with the stresses of teaching and the feeling of being overwhelmed by paperwork, students, parents, administrators, and my own feelings. Let me show you ways I found over the years that helped me cope.
*Prayer For me this was a lifesaver!!! I have always been an early riser (I know…I try not to be too perky) but instead of sitting with my coffee and turning on the TV until my husband joined me, I decided to try prayer. I found a daily prayer that worked for me and I prayed every morning. I found myself calmer and more centered by the time I entered my classroom.
*Ask for help Even veteran teachers feel overwhelmed and I was one of them. For a while, I thought asking for help would be seen as a sign of weakness. I was afraid other teachers would think less of me. Wrong, wrong Mary Lou! I reached out as a veteran teacher to another veteran teacher and found a fabulous teacher and eventual friend who helped me become
objective standards driven instead of …”Oh, what a cute activity. The students will love it.”
*Realize you aren’t perfect! When mistakes happens, and they will, you need to take responsibility and move on. I had no problem admitting I was wrong and guess what? The sun rose in the morning and life went on!! Words to live by…LET IT GO! I was learning to do that WAAAAY before “Frozen” !
*Stay organized This is a hard one even for veteran teachers, but you need to find an organizational system that works for you. It doesn’t matter how cute it looks on Facebook or Pinterest, if it ain’t workin’, it’s a mess! Mine is a set file folders with labels…Today, File, Hand back, Copy. Not fancy at all, but it works for me.
*Make time for family I used to teach with a colleague who would keep us in grade level meetings until 6 pm. It wasn’t until I had a principal who spoke of making memories with family, not school AND being moved to a different grade level I that I realized how I had been neglecting my family. Suddenly, I was able to be at my own kids activities. Dinner was on the table before 7 pm! No more fussing from family about all the time being spent at school!!!
*Make time for yourself Yes, it is easier to say than do, but you REALLY do need to make the effort. For me, it was getting a pedicure! It seemed, to me, to be the ultimate in pampering!!!! It was an hour out of my month and it made me feel fabulous! Another of my friends goes to the mountains and hikes for the day. Find something for yourself and make time for it!
*BREATHE You are a professional and are very knowledgeable! Too often, we begin to doubt ourselves as we deal yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, even hourly, with students, parents, administrators, school boards, and legislators. The news is full of stories of teachers whose actions or inactions give the rest of us a bad name. You have a college degree, maybe even a Masters degree. You have attended professional development during your free time or vacations. You adjust your teaching to whatever “new” teaching idea comes down the pike!! DON’T let ridiculous teaching evaluations define who you are!!!!! Take the words of my six year old grandson to heart…You got this!!!!