At my school, this is the traditional time for complaining, sighing with exhaustion, and exchanging knowing looks with fellow teachers as you pass them in the hall. We ARE exhausted, test-stress is taking its toll, warmer weather brings out spring fever and subsequent behavior issues, allergies grab hold of way too many of us, AND it’s still too early to start counting the days til school is out. (Here in Va, we go past mid-June). So to survive these last weeks without pulling out your hair, here are a few ideas~
1. Lean on your team: grade level teams, teachers who teach similar groups of kids (esol, sped, fine arts, etc.), makeshift “team members”( brought together by circumstance, location, special interest), professional learning community members, whoever…. Just seek out folks whose interests and philosophies mesh with your own. (Notice I didn’t say mirror your own. Great teammates often disagree, but they do so respectfully and with the best interests of kids in mind.) These supporters know your burden and can appreciate your hard work!! Right about now, their adoration is exactly what you need!
2.Vent with a purpose: Sure, give yourself permission to rant when necessary. Lots of blogs out there are driven by this important strategy for surviving burn-out. These teachers know that complaining with vigor in their blog gives them a chance to be more productive and professional in the workplace. I think the trick is to keep yourself focused as you blather on about the idiocy of the administration, or the inequities of the teacher’s lounge unspoken seniority system, or the lazy-assed tenured teacher who teaches the same way every year, year-after-year. By staying focused, you might use your rant to analyze the problem later on… and maybe find a productive solution in all the venom! Even if you don’t, it sure feels good to let it out!
3.Ask questions, seek out new ideas, invite others into your classroom…. Maybe they’ll invite you into theirs. Especially for teachers with little or no student teaching experience, observing others is a fabulous way to beat the feeling of being alone in the mire. By breaking down the isolating barriers of the classroom door you get to see that we all face the same problems, and that there are other ways to work them through. The last time I observed another first grade teacher, (last week) I got at least 5 new ideas about curriculum, classroom arrangement, and organizing for grading.
4.Plan now for your summer fun: Even if it’s just a long weekend, having a concrete plan for relaxing helps the grumpiest grump make the long walk from the car to the school building door…and find his/her smile to make it through the day.
5.Reach out one more time to that troubled kid, the cranky teammate, the beleaguered secretary. By calling up every iota of generosity left in your spent, wasted soul, you might just remember why you picked this occupation in the first place.
6.Finally,…..rent a marguerita machine and throw a bash for you and a few of your favorite people. (Whether there are work friends there or not, is strictly up to you!!)