The end of the year is tough. Really tough. The stress of finishing up all that’s on a teacher’s plate before the end of the year can be astounding. Assessments, projects, reviews or evaluations, and grades or report cards are just a few of the millions of things on a teacher’s mind each and every day of those last few weeks. I look at other teachers in my school and think, “How do they keep smiling through it all?” Well, I asked them that question and several answers kept coming up. Here are the top five tips that seem to keep my colleagues in a great state of mind in spite of all the stress around them.
Leave Work at School
This resounding answer I heard most often from the happiest teachers with whom I have contact. Leave your work at school. It will get done. If it means you come in to work a few minutes early, or work through your lunch a few days, it’s worth it. Work stays at work, so you can focus on you, your family, and your other life (yes, you need one of those, too!) in the evenings and on the weekends. That time is yours to refresh yourself, do something fun, and just relax. You will return to your job in a much better state of mind each day ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
Take Care of Your Health
Exercise and good eating was the second most mentioned topic. Keeping your body fit and full of the nutrients and energy it needs to get through each day keeps you from feeling down, depressed, and burned out. Bring healthy snacks to much on breaks and take a walk over lunch. Get enough rest at night and remember to drink plenty of water. Sounds simple, but it can prevent illnesses and feelings of stress.
Try Something New in Your Classroom
You don’t need to add to your workload by researching new ideas and ways to teach something. Rather, try something simple. Get a few new decorations for your room. Try a new arrangement to create a more meaningful learning environment. Get some new school supplies - don’t we all love shopping for those? There’s nothing like the smell and feel of brand new markers and sparkly notepads to get me smiling again.
Incorporate Some Fun into Your Day
This might be in the form of a daily joke or brainteaser you share with your students. Or maybe you enjoy art. Take a lesson to a new level by adding an art project to go with it. And then make sure you complete the art project with your students! Art can be very relaxing and therapeutic. (Not to mention the fact that you will see some very engaged learners in your room!)
Connect with Your Colleagues
Be sure to take time to connect with your fellow teacher friends. You are not alone in this job. Feelings of isolation can contribute to burnout. Take the time to visit with them about what’s going on in your classroom and your school. Offer ideas to lighten things up and listen to suggestions they may have. One of my colleagues mentioned enjoying an hour after school to get off campus and connect with a group of teachers over an appetizer or beverage. Seeing how others handle the day-to-day grind can be inspiring. Take time to laugh with them and enjoy what you have in common - being a teacher!