story by Allie Roark
If you are a teacher like me, you have probably been spending your last several weeks of summer planning for a new school year by spending hours on Pinterest, working in your classroom, and working on new lesson plans. I don’t know about you, but this summer flew by. I am not ready to set my 4:30 a.m. alarm clock again. This feeling can be quite similar to the “Sunday scary’s” except a little more intense.
In the past, I spent the majority of my time worrying about my classroom being ready when I wasn’t even concerned about being mentally ready. What good will a pretty classroom do if there is an unorganized or insane teacher in charge of it? I have decided to begin a fresh, new school year with a few new strategies to help make the Sundays less scary, the school days more purposeful, and my mindless crowded. These tips can easily be modified to help any working gal in their profession. So if you’re not a teacher, you’re still welcome to take and implement what sounds good to you.
Have a positive mindset.
Being a teacher is hard. We are expected to meet a lot of demands every minute, hour, day, and week. Most of the time it seems expected, and we don’t feel appreciated. It can leave you feeling drained and empty. Friend, it’s impossible to pour from a cup that’s empty. Fill your cup up. Be intentional with your “me time.” Whether it’s taking bubble baths, reading for pleasure, listening to worship music, journaling, or exercising – find the time to do it. I choose to set an alarm at 4:30 a.m. to read my bible and go to the gym. It’s time that we stop feeling guilty for living our lives outside of work. Set a time to stop answering emails. In fact, don’t even check them. They will be there in the morning. You’ve had a long day, and you deserve some downtime with yourself and your family. It’s time to turn the teacher off and be you again.
Another way to keep a positive mindset is to start each day with a grateful heart. Write out ten things that you are grateful for each morning. You are cheating if you are constantly using “your house, car, job, husband, and kids” as your answers. What little things made you happy the day before? This tip seems easy, but it does force us to think about what’s going right in our lives instead of what’s going wrong.
I have also found it helpful to find a positive teacher bestie. It’s inevitable to not complain, but find someone that can remind you of the happy during the disappointments. Not only can we learn from each other, but we can cheer each other on in the hallways. We never get tired of compliments or appreciation. It isn’t a contest after all.
Create a routine.
Raise your hand if you hate mornings (raises hand). The first 30 minutes of every day are crucial. Do you have a routine for when the students enter the room? Are they constantly coming up to your desk to ask you something? Are you having to ask them for their homework every morning? Did that one student forget to make his lunch choice again? These things seem minimal, but when they all happen at once, you find yourself playing catch up for the next hour. Plan out your procedures for how you want things done and use the first two weeks to make sure your students follow through with it. Students should walk in the room knowing exactly what they need to be doing. While they are doing their assigned work, go ahead and answer those emails, send in the lunch count and attendance, take a sip of your coffee, and take a deep breath.
Some would probably say that I take this to the extreme, but to each its own, right? I wouldn’t say that I am OCD in all areas of life, but my workspace is something that I like to feel in control of. Misplacing something or having to stop a lesson to look for something seriously can start a morning off on a stressful foot. Why? Well, kids. As soon as you lose their attention, it’s a tough job getting them back on track. I invested in the cheap bins from Target or Walmart that usually come in a pack of five for $5 and seriously organize it all. I stick on cute labels to help me locate the bin in a quick manner, and it has been a game-changer. Are you a teacher with stacks of papers on your desk?
Be a happy planner.
If you read the article last month, you will see this same tip. That’s how much I believe in it. You’ve got to plan. Based on my enneagram number, I am the achiever. Planning is my thing. I don’t know why, but I get so excited to check off the tasks on the to-do list or mark something as “done” in my planner. It’s rare for teachers to leave by three in the afternoon, or leave without any papers to grade or lessons to plan. This is something that I am going to take very seriously this year. Each Sunday, I plan to spend maybe 30 to 45 minutes planning out each upcoming week. During the week, I seem to forget to be intentional and send home notes, make positive phone calls home, check my email, or schedule a meeting with a parent. I am probably one of the worst to check my email and respond right away. Even worse than I am at texting, and that’s pretty bad. If your schedule rarely stays the same week to week, you can adjust and plan accordingly. Every evening shouldn’t be spent marking papers, looking for lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers, or answering emails. Assign days for those tasks and stick to it. This action plan will work if you write it out.