And here we are again! I’ve found it’s fun to start afresh, but a lot of work. I always think teaching is unique in that way – you basically start a new job every year. That can be very stressful. Here are some thoughts on starting the best way you can.
Well. This is huge. I’m not sure it’s possible to be too organised. I’m sure it’s possible for me to be super jealous of people who are very organised. Keeping track of everything and learning how to be organised is a skill that develops over time. I have tried lots of different approaches, methods, systems, etc. I think it is important to try different things and do what works best for you. Find a place for everything, even if that includes a place for “I don’t know where else to put this”. Take a few minutes each day to record observations of students and notes on how lessons went. Just as it is with classroom management, if you begin with a steadfast approach, you can relax after a while. Once you have set up systems, they begin to run themselves.
Speaking of being steadfast, it is extremely important to follow through, with the main systems you put into place. Now, sometimes, things don’t work. I have found myself doing things I didn’t like in my classroom because I thought I had to finish what I had started. Not true. If something isn’t working, dump it. To avoid this, be sure to think thoroughly about how you want to approach important issues in your classroom. Behaviour management, assessment, parent communication, use of supplies, interactive displays or centres. For heaven’s sake keep it simple. Can you email parents every day with several paragraphs about their child’s day? Sure. But why would you do that? I have no idea. It’s time-consuming and unnecessary. When planning routines and approaches, consider what works best for you and what you will be able to maintain until June.
In a job where you have quite a bit of responsibility, a lot of little tasks to complete, many people to communicate with, little time to pee, another meeting, a malfunctioning copier, and (fill in the blank), I know you know you need to take care to maintain a patient, positive attitude. That can take so many forms. If you don’t feel you have time to devote to yourself, try doing tiny things that give you a breather. A beautiful photo on your desktop computer, nice music in the background while students work or while you plan, using a brand new marker because the old one is crappy. These are small things that remind you life exists outside the classroom. They give you the opportunity to take responsibility for your own peace of mind.
On a larger scale, your mental health can cause genuine issues that can keep you from doing your best and finding peace in general. Do not hesitate to talk to someone if you see your life becoming too much for you. See your doctor or maybe read a self-help book. How can you take care of your students without taking care of yourself? You would never let them get away with that. Don’t do it to yourself. Take steps to avoid teacher burnout.
If you need other ideas or just need to chat, email me. I’m good at helping teachers feel better. I’ve been in those tough spots many times myself.
This year focus on getting better at one thing. You cannot do it all. But you can always work on something. Take care and have an amazing year!