In every profession, there are bound to be good days and bad days. As teachers, we certainly have good days and bad days in the classroom. Many factors contribute to our assessment of whether a day was good or bad. A bad day in teaching might consist of having to deal with “that student” again who comes to class late and is refusing to do any work, getting an angry phone call from a parent who can’t believe you haven’t taken the time to update a grade (of course the work was late and was just turned in earlier that morning), or having your prep period yanked away from you unexpectedly due to a last minute meeting that popped up and you feel obligated to attend. Sometimes, after you’ve been in the teaching profession long enough, you may even feel like you have good years and bad years instead of just good days and bad days. While we certainly can’t accurately predict whether a day or even a year will be good or bad for all of our loyal blog readers, here at Teacher Sweepers we have some great ideas of how you can at least attempt to make this your best year of teaching ever! Let’s take a look at some of our tried and true ideas of how you can help yourself (and your fellow teachers) kick some ass this coming school year.
1. Start prepping for the upcoming school year earlier than you normally would. Even if you aren’t fully willing or ready to step foot in your classroom just yet, at least start by making a list of to-do items to start on as soon as you are mentally a little more ready. We all get it – summer is amazing, and we want to savor every last juicy bit of it. Here’s the problem though, school will be back in session, whether you are ready or not! Ignoring the upcoming back to school season won’t make it go away, no matter how hard we try to pretend that our precious summer isn’t evaporating before our very eyes! So take those baby steps and start getting your mind back into the game earlier this year. School might be the last thing on your mind right now, but if you take the time to get some of your work done now, you can have those last few weeks before school starts to be a little less stressed and a little more carefree knowing you have done your prep work ahead of schedule this year. No one likes to feel rushed and frantic right before school starts, so do yourself a favor and get those copies made, get those lesson plans done, and be fully prepared for your students to arrive.
2. Spend your school year celebrating mini made up milestones with your co-workers all year long. As silly as it sounds, this idea has been seriously fun and successful. Our office of teachers decided to celebrate the school year completion in ten percent increments last year. For every ten percent of the school year that was completed, we had a little mini celebration. It was hilarious (we had a “wear your poncho to school” day for one of our celebrations), it was delicious (we often had food and drink celebrations), and it was something we all ended up looking forward to as a group.
3. Make a commitment to try something new this year in your classroom. Teachers can notoriously be creatures of habit when it comes to lesson planning, instruction, and even classroom management. Why not try something new and different this year? Maybe you’ve heard of another teacher gushing about a cool new app that you’ve thought about trying (hello ZipGrade – more on this later; it’s getting its own post!) or maybe you want to finally try some sort of online classroom website (Google Classroom, Edmodo, Moodle etc.) or it can be as simple as changing up the configuration of the tables or desks in your room. Go for it! Spice up your routine by adding a little something different. It can be invigorating, enlightening, and it could just be your new favorite aspect of teaching.
4. Counteract any negativity you encounter throughout the school year with positivity. This can be a huge undertaking, and it can also be the most important and rewarding one. Let’s make a real-world connection here. Let’s say one of your students has just written all over one of your beautiful new textbooks. You are pissed, and now you have to discipline that student, make a phone call home, write a referral, and deal with this whole situation on top of your normal teaching routine. Instead of letting the anger consume you, cool off by writing a little note to a student who wrote an outstanding essay or take the time to call home about a student who did something thoughtful for a classmate. It’s like the good old adage about not going to bed angry in a marriage. Use this same theory in the classroom – don’t leave the classroom for the day angry. That way you won’t risk allowing your foul school mood to spill over into your after school routine.
5. Get out of your classroom more. This is an incredibly important part of my day. In between classes, I make sure to go out into the hall to have six precious minutes of adult interaction with my team of teachers. Passing time for the students allows me to step out of the classroom to talk and laugh a little with my colleagues, and as an added bonus we can keep an eye on our students in the hallways for a little unofficial hall duty. This also goes for the beginning of our day before school even starts. We pretty religiously meet up at “our corner” outside of our classrooms to start our day together, and it’s a great way to start our day. Try it – you just might like it! Teaching can be so isolating at times, but it doesn’t have to be if you make a concerted effort to connect with others.
6. Find your squad, your people, your posse at your school. As mentioned in number 5, teaching can be isolating. After all, we spend most of our day surrounded by kiddos at least half our age. Make it a priority to connect with some of your colleagues this year and form a network of like-minded teachers. You will find that cultivating relationships with your colleagues will lessen your stress and make your job more fulfilling. Once your form your squad, make sure you carve out time to bond and spend time with one another. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to find this bonding time outside of school (although, most likely you will find yourself in extracurricular social situations with your squad). Make time at lunch, on your prep, between classes, and before school. Our squad religiously has pizza Fridays every week and it gives us something to look forward to all week, and we always have lots of laughs and fun when we get together. If you can’t quite find “your people” at your school, at least try to find time to connect with at least one other person at school. We all need a support system, and sometimes that can be found solely in one other co-worker.
7. Carve out some time to pamper and indulge yourself during this school year. As teachers, we can easily become consumed by putting the needs of everyone else before our own. I have found that if I make a conscious effort to schedule in some “me time” I am a better person all around because of it. Whether it’s a massage, getting your hair done, getting a manicure, or doing something else that is just for you – do it, and don’t feel guilty! You deserve a little pampering, so go ahead and spoil yourself a little. It doesn’t even have to cost money either. I sometimes consider a solo walk out on the trail an indulgence. Take care of your body, mind, and soul – because teaching can really take a toll on all three of these entities.
8. Take a new teacher or student teacher under your wing this school year. Think back to when you were a new teacher at your current school or go even further back to your own student teaching. Remember how lost, insecure, and overwhelmed you felt? How about being a guiding light to someone who is now in that same situation and experiencing those same feelings? Befriending or mentoring a new teacher or a student teacher can be a great way for you to have a renewed sense of purpose and passion for education this school year. Take the new teacher under your wing and be the person you wish you had to rely on during these crucial first few years of someone else’s newly blossoming teaching career. Even if that means just simply stopping them in the hallway or dropping a quick email to see how they are doing or see if they need anything, it will mean the world to them and make you remember how far you’ve come in your own teaching career. It will help to rejuvenate you as well when you see the innocence and excitement of a new teacher just beginning their educational journey.
9. Have a sense of humor whenever possible. I cannot begin to even think about what my teaching career would be like if I had no sense of humor. Humor has gotten me through some very tough days at school (and life in general). Try to find the humor in every situation. Now sometimes, that just isn’t feasible or appropriate, but whenever possible – laugh it off. If you genuinely can’t find the humor in something because there is none to be had, at least try to find the bright side of the situation or find the lesson to be learned. Just like you ask the students to reflect on what they’ve learned, take any difficult situation you may encounter this school year, turn it into a learning opportunity and move on. Too often, we as teachers take things way too seriously and way too personally, when we should all just make like Elsa and LET IT GO (let’s be honest, that song is stuck in your head now, and you likely don’t even remember what was stressing you out because you’re too busy singing the soundtrack to Frozen).
10. Last but not least, to truly reach your highest potential and have your best year of teaching ever, visit us here at teachersweepers.com for inspiration, humor, and best of all – giveaways! Remember to come back weekly for new blog posts, and monthly for new teacher-only sweepstakes. Why not further your commitment and sign up for our mailing list? Just do it already! We won’t spam your mailbox with useless junk because quite frankly, we don’t know how to do that, nor do we have the time for it because we are busy teachers just like you! Lastly, more support from teachers like you means bigger and better prizes for all, so share our website if you will. We love you for your ongoing support! We truly hope that Teacher Sweepers helps you to have the best year of teaching ever!
Take a minute to comment below and tell us how you plan to make this your best year ever!