I am now back to grind in my second semester of Teachers College, and over the break I did a lot of self reflecting on how the previous semester went for me. As I was reflecting, I realized that I was burned out – I was tired – emotionally and physically drained, and I lacked motivation. When I asked myself how I ended up getting to that spot I found myself thinking back to all the times my professors had said “It only gets tougher from here on in”. What the heck was that suppose to mean? I know teaching is a demanding profession. I know that there are sacrifices that need to be made. I know my job isn’t your typical 9am-5pm job. My question was, why is everyone trying to convince me of this? It felt as though I was stressing myself out from all the upcoming years of even more stress.
This semester I am looking forward most to my Elementary Health Education class. Initially, I thought this course would just be about how to teach Health education to students in the Middle Years. I thought it would be how to look at Health Education as a cross-curricular component(which it is), but I never thought that it would be a course about how to take care of health of myself as a teacher. I was interested in learning the different strategies used by other Educators about how they take care of themselves as well as their students. What has been the most interesting so far has been all the different ways we’ve been looking at how to deal with stress and the pressures of being a first year teacher.
Here’s what I’ve gotten so far (I’m sure this list will be added to throughout my career and by no means will I ever be an expert at dealing with such a thing)!
- You are never going through your stress alone!
Every teacher and educator has been in your spot before and there will always be someone else who will be in your situation. Chances are you have another teacher friend going through the same problem, so don’t be afraid to accept it and look for help.
- Do something you love once a day.
This one is super great because you can take this into the classroom and challenge your students to do the same in their lives. Find something that you and your students can do together, but also find something YOU love doing. It can something as small as bringing in fresh flowers to work or something like making your favorite meal once a week. This gives you something to look forward to throughout the day and adds something different to your daily routine. I dare you to try something different everyday!
- Find great support outside of work.
We know teacher friends are the best friends, but it’s important to have a voice of reason and a listening ear outside of the work life. Friends outside your teacher circle, your gym buddy, your significant other, and family might be the people you need to talk to at the end of the day. Often times when we surround ourselves with likeminded people we tend to complain more about situations. When we have a good support system outside of this we tend to vent out our situations instead of complaining…yes! There is in fact a difference.
- Every day is a new day!
Okay so today wasn’t the greatest; you spilled coffee on your shirt, the photocopier jammed first thing in the morning, your principle needs you to change your bulletin board, your students were having “one of those days”, and report cards are due in t-4 hours….so what?! Tomorrow when you wake up, it will be a new day, with new adventures and maybe even some new obstacles. Leave the past the in past and look into the daily future. You have students with blank minds waiting to be filled with new knowledge. Embrace it!
These are just some of the small concepts I’ve picked up along the way in my EHE Class that I think were especially important. Everyone has different ways or dealing with the stress that comes with our profession. The most important thing is to remember that there are resources available for you when you need them – ask you administration and your teacher friends for resources if need be, but never be afraid to admit that there is an issue. There is often a stigma that comes along with being a teacher; that we always have “all together”, but the fact of the matter is that it is hard to be “together” all the time. Every teacher before, after you and even right now with you know the feeling. Do what you need to do in order to look forward to the next day.
If you need more ideas here are two other great blogs that I found to be great help!