Leaving work at work is truly an art form—especially when you’re a teacher.
It gets easier with time and experience, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve spent restless nights and early mornings replaying the day’s events, recalling the conversations I had, the cringe-worthy lessons I gave, and all the things I didn’t say—but should’ve said— to my students.
If you haven’t experienced these feelings, I’d like to know your secret to success—but my gut tells me that most teachers, particularly those new to the profession, often feel like they’re hanging on by a thread. In times like this, I reach for one of my favorite resources: a book by Neila Connons called If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students. Below you’ll find 10 of her tips to help teachers keep the fire burning.
10 Ways for Teachers to Keep the Fire Burning
Make “me-time” a part of the job
Your students are important, but they cannot—and should not—be your sole priority. Beating yourself up at night and working through the weekend are both counter-productive activities. Your students need you to be at your best…how can you possibly be your best if you are exhausted?
You-time is a part of the job. You owe it to yourself to pursue healthy relationships, hobbies and life outside of work.
View problems as challenges
You can waste a lot of time and energy talking about what’s wrong, but healthy people spend 5 percent of their time discussing problems and 95 percent looking for solutions. They enforce this philosophy in every aspect of their lives.
Don’t be a finger-pointer
This is an extension of the point we made above: Blame has never accomplished anything. Instead of spending time trying to figure out who is at fault, use the time to make things better.
Analyze your stresses and frustrations
Know what sets you off and avoid it when you can.
Set personal goals that are not associated with vices
Too often we associate resolutions and goal-setting with vices. We know we should stop smoking, start exercising more, eat less red meat, and so on. While the aforementioned goals are certainly worthy of our pursuit, it is important to also set goals that relate to our passions. What have you always wanted to do? Making it happen may not occur overnight; it may take a lot of work, but you owe it to yourself to pursue your passions.
Do not vegetate, procrastinate or complain
Be active, organized, and positive. Get involved and be a part of the accomplishment. Healthy people are doers.
Have positive role models and mentors
Teachers are surrounded by lots of brilliant and resourceful people. Swallow your pride and learn to depend on them.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
When challenges occur, ask yourself if this will make any difference tomorrow, next week or next month. Take your job seriously; take yourself lightly.
Be proud and confident
Even on the days you don’t feel your best, fake it ‘till you make it. A walk of confidence and pride definitely adds to the positive climate of a building.
Don’t ever stop playing and laughing
A day without laughter is also a day not fully lived. There is so much to smile about in our business; and we know that we don’t stop playing because we grow old—we grow old because we stop playing.