This posting is for all teachers, no matter when your school year ends. Whether you have packed your last book, handed out report cards, and said your final goodbyes, or are in the throes of winding down, packing up your classroom, and feeling overwhelmed, this post is for you.
Every year comes with its own set of highs and lows. Recently I've been reflecting on this school year. I am sure that most of you are going through the same process of looking back as well. One thing that I know for sure is that this year is that I was truly tested with the increasing demands of our profession. After being a teacher for almost 30 years, this year was probably one of the most challenging. Don’t get me wrong, it has also been an amazing time for me, and filled with many opportunities. But there were times when I felt like I was just keeping my head above water. If I am feeling that way, I can only image how the newbies to the profession are feeling.
During my reflection of this school year, I thought about what tools or strategies I called upon to get me through those TOUGH days. So, I would like to share my Top 10 Stress Busters (tried-and-true!) that kept me energized and motivated throughout the year. I am going to borrow David Letterman’s format and count down to the most effective one.
10. Keep a positive attitude — I know that this can be difficult, but it is so well worth it. Think of this as looking at the glass half full as opposed to half empty. My co-teacher Sue teases me all the time as I do this. I call the process, “Well, the blessing is . . . ”
9. Just say "No" — I have learned that I am not "Super Teacher." I have learned my limits. Choose those events or activities that you can give 100 percent to, and walk away from the rest. Otherwise you will burn yourself out trying to be everything to everyone.
8. Sleep — Enough said! Make sure that you get enough sleep to be productive during the day.
7. Close your door — If you have set aside time to complete a task, don’t let interruptions sidetrack you. Close your door and place a sign on it to let colleagues know that you are unavailable for the moment. Here's one to download that works for me. Think of it as the "scarf signal" from college. When the scarf was on the doorknob, it meant the room was occupied and to keep out. The door sign should produce the same results.
6. Take a walk — Take a few minutes and get some fresh air. A change of scenery will often give you a new perspective.
5. Plan "Take No Work Home" days — Make a commitment to have a few days in your year when you do not take any work home. This year I made a promise to myself to have time with my family, which meant that I could not bring home work daily. To make this possible, I stayed after school on specified days to complete any schoolwork. (This partners with stress-buster number 7.)
4. Remember there is no "I" in "TEAM" — Be sure to collaborate and plan with your colleagues. This will help lessen your workload, and also is a way to keep you in the loop of what’s going on in your school. Remember to share your wealth and you will reap the benefits.
3. Eat lunch — Cherish your lunchtime and make a point to eat with some of your colleagues. During my lunches with Diane and Traci, we make it a point to talk about things other than school. Recipes, our families, and vacations are our topics of choice.
2. Theme song — Find a song that just makes you want to smile. My co-teacher Sue came in one day and played “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. We hear this song and just start to giggle. It puts us in a "happy” place.
Last, but certainly not least, the number one stress-buster is . . .
1. CHOCOLATE! — When all else fails, a piece of it has a way of making everything better!
These work for me. I really have more, but these are the ones that I go to regularly. Most importantly, remember why you became a teacher and hold onto that emotion because that will get you through the most trying of times!
Do you have any stressbusters that work for you? Please share!