In normal times, teaching is stressful. There are all the standards to meet and trying to keep it engaging for your students. There are meetings and assessments and reports. There’s getting the supplies you need. There are the kids who are struggling that you want to reach. The ones who have so much potential that you want to help them realize. And then there are the issues kids are facing that are so far beyond the scope of the school, but you want to help anyway (and know that safety at home and having enough food and other issues absolutely affect what happens in your classroom).
And these aren’t normal times.
My colleagues in the U.S. are getting ready for back to school—or they are getting ready for another year of remote learning. Or waiting to hear what their district will do. They are trying to reconfigure classrooms and rework lesson plans to avoid shared materials or kids sitting on the mat talking to partners. They are worrying about their own health and safety. Here in Australia, we are riding adjusting as need be to new shut down orders and some remote or flexible learning plans.
Teaching is stressful right now, even more than usual.
We can’t control the virus or the regulations and restrictions we are working with, but we can take steps to take care of ourselves or make other aspects of teaching easier. Here are a few things to try:
1. Take a break.
If you are constantly listening to the news, checking for updates on your local plan, scrolling Facebook, talking about risks, take a break. Turn everything off. Don’t think about teaching or school.
Go for a walk. Sit and breathe. Play with a kid or a pet. Immerse yourself in something you love to do. It’s not easy to disconnect. It’s not easy to put worries and planning aside, but it is essential any time you are stressed, and certainly right now.
2. Find the good.
A gratitude practice is helpful even in the best of times, but it has definite benefits in hard times. Try noticing the good throughout the day—a compliment or thank you, something beautiful you see, a kindness somebody does, support from family or friends, a pleasant surprise, a moment of joy.
Write down three good things from the day each day. They can be little things, but finding the positives or the goods helps counteract the challenges and bad news.
3. Be in the present and plan accordingly.
This school year is likely to be very different than years past. It can be sad letting go of things that you love to do with your students or things that you know they love. Take a minute to acknowledge the things you will miss and then set that aside. Recognize that things feel unpredictable.
You can’t control whether the way you teach will shift during the year. Focus on what you need to do to get ready for now or the plan for now. Plan in smaller chunks. As you plan, focus on what works based on what I know right now.
4. Make prep easier.
While you are adapting and being flexible and addressing all the daily classroom needs, you still need resources. If your energy is low or time is extra tight, you can grab done-for-you resources for math, literacy, PE & health, classroom management, and more, in my teacher’s store. If you want a great price for LOTS of resources all together—including download and print tools, online tools, and even teacher self-care support (you need and deserve it)—join the Top Notch Teaching Members Club. Save time and money and know that you’ll know where to go next time you need a worksheet or game or other tools for your classroom.
When teaching is stressful, you need all the support you can get. That means taking care of yourself first, connecting with other teachers, and using available resources to ease your workload. And remember, you got this!
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