By Teachers, For Teachers
Let’s face it, teaching can be a tough job. If you are a teacher, then you know this already. You’re also probably sick and tired of hearing people with “Other” jobs complain that teachers have it so easy. If they could only be in a room with 20 1st graders for just one day, struggling to keep teaching strategies fresh, then maybe they would understand. Between curriculum changes and the Common Core, new teacher evaluations and trying to differentiate learning, it can be quite overwhelming -- so much so that many teachers are finding that they have lost their passion for their profession. Who wants to spend their weekends scouring Pinterest for lesson plans and teaching strategies when you can be spending time with your family? You may ask yourself, “Have teachers always felt like this or is this due to the many changes in our education system that we have seen over the years?” In the end, there are many teachers who have been teaching for 20 or more years. These teachers have stayed devoted to their jobs, so there must be something that helps through the tough times. Here are a few of the top teacher-tested teaching strategies from veteran teachers who have been through it all.
The number-one tip that all veteran teachers gave was to stay positive. It’s easy to think negatively about everything in your life. But even though it may take some daily practice on your part, staying positive will pay off. Focus on what is going right in your classroom and choose to live and learn from your mistakes. Keeping up this positive attitude will not only help you through the tough times, but it may rub off on your students as well.
You have all heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Well, this holds true when it comes to feeling teacher burnout too. Do something every day that will make you laugh, like watch a comedy on TV, read a funny teacher meme, or do something silly with your students. Try not to take yourself too seriously, and try to laugh more often.
Self-reflection is a great way for you to think about went well with your day. Ask yourself everyday “What went well today?” “What did I do today, that my students will be able to take with them for the rest of their lives?” It has even been proven in research that by just taking just a few minutes to reflect each day can improve our overall well-being. So, if studies show that it helps, then you might as well try it.
If you are going through a tough time with one of your students, or you are feeling overwhelmed with grading papers, then chances are you are not alone. There are other teachers in your school that have gone through the same thing as you or have felt the same way that you are feeling. Seek out your colleagues and talk to them about what you are going through. Chances are they totally understand and will have some great advice for you.
This means in order to maintain your balance and stability, you must keep firmly rooted within yourself. If you are going through a tough time in the external world, it may be causing your inner self some conflict. Your mind may wander and get caught up in all of your stresses. So in order to change that, you need to stay centered within yourself. For example, if you find that you are around someone in the faculty lounge who is triggering frustration in you or giving you anxiety, then being grounded can help.
Being grounded is a mindset that you have to have in order to get through difficult situations. If you feel yourself getting pulled into a negative situation, and you find that you are feeling tense, try taking a moment to feel your feet pressing against the ground, and bring your awareness to each part of your body. This will help you stay centered within yourself.
Having confidence in your own abilities as a teacher will help you get through any tough time that you are having within your job. You need to remind yourself (sometimes daily) that you have worked very hard to get to where you are today, and that you have spent years of college and interning to have your own classroom. Be confident in your ability to teach, and remind yourself that you know what is best for you and your students.
What helps you when the going gets tough in your classroom? Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for your fellow teachers? Please share your thoughts and advice in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.