Hello! Thank you for visiting my site. I’m really thankful for the likes and follows. Seriously. This is my therapy. It’s fun to share my stuff with others, hoping that it is helpful in some way, and receive positive feedback in return. You deserve chocolate. I mean that. Go eat some chocolate Right NOW!!! You didn’t really need my permission, but you have it. You’re welcome.
For those of you who have been following and reading my blog for a while (You SERIOUSLY deserve chocolate), I mostly write poetry, but sometimes I jump into the Prose Party.
Party Hat Time!!!
Earlier this summer, I posted a blog about the importance of rest. It was so much fun to write, and I want folks to know that I PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH Homes. This has been a very restful summer for me. I hope it has been restful for you as well. Following the three tips to a restful summer has paid off. I feel my motivation and general MOJO returning stronger each day.
Today, I’m sitting in my new apartment about a week from starting back teaching in a new school year, and I’m thinking about the stuff I’d like to improve/do differently. I think I’m a hard worker, and I get a lot done, but I’m not one of those teachers who works through the summer, and puts in a ton of extra hours during the school year. I used to be, for many years, until I found myself burned out beyond the point of recognition. The root cause of my burn out was partly working too much, and partly health issues which lead to fatigue and depression.
I received some great advice from a friend to help me both keep my job (Yay! Gotta pay those bills!) but also work less, so that I could rest and deal with my health. Props to you BRO. You are the BEST. You DESERVE Chocolate! (Crowd Cheers! Confetti Fun! Everyone stares in joyful amazement!)
My friend is not a teacher; he is a business manager. SURPRISE! The same management skills that lead to success in Business can lead to success in Teaching.
Here are a few of the Management Mantras that he shared with me. These have helped me MOST PRODIGIOUSLY. Adding them to my Pedagogy has improved my Happy Teacher OMs. I hope they are helpful to you, as well. Also, keep in mind that I am not claiming to be a management expert. I’m a fun-loving, creative, free soul, who sometimes can find what I’m looking for on my desk, so please, PLEASE, feel free to share your own tips in the comments below.
1st of all: Be on Time and Leave on Time
The first thing my friend said to me was: Do not work overtime. Do not go in early or stay late. We might think working extra hours looks good, but it can actually be quite harmful to your career. Doing these three things signals to your boss that you are not using your time wisely. It sparks competiveness amongst co-workers that hinders team work. Working too much also can lead to poor health and lowers job satisfaction. Get your work completed during the hours of the day that you are being paid to work. A 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM work schedule means, “work from 7:30 to 3:30,” and then GO AWAY. Work that you haven’t finished by 3:30 PM must wait to be completed the next business day.
This is pretty stupid advice for a teacher, right? Because teaching is a job that NEVER QUITS. Which is also why this is FREAKING. AMAZING. ADVICE for a teacher, and I recommend you try it on for a bit. You’ll love it. Trust me.
In the beginning of my career, I was one of those teachers who worked, literally, ten to twelve hour days. I worked on Saturdays and Sundays, too, grading papers and writing lesson plans, so you can imagine that I felt it was asking a lot to expect me to finish and leave work on time. Not go in on the weekend? Pfffftttt! Psych! What?
The first day that I put this lil bit of ‘how to’ into motion, I discovered something WONDERFUL! I discovered there is more to life than work. The next morning, I went into work anxious, feeling a bit like a slacker, but guess what? Everything was more than fine. The building hadn’t collapsed or burned down in the night.
I still had the same cycle of papers to grade, paperwork, and lesson plans to tackle, except I worked harder to make sure I got finished what needed to be done before I left at 3:30 PM. This means keeping an up to date calendar with highlighted deadlines. A routine to quickly complete daily end of the day tasks brought the MAGIC. Add to this routine the work of preparing for tomorrow’s lessons before you leave. Delegate everything you can possibly delegate to an aide, volunteer, or student.
Do the job of Teaching to best of your ability, managing your time wisely, accomplishing your responsibilities as much as possible in the allotted time, and then GO the Hell HOME.
Next: Eat Lunch Hamsa
Why are you not eating lunch? Here is a true conversation I overhear often in the teacher circle:
Beautiful Teacher A: “I NEVER eat lunch!”
Beautiful Teacher B: “Me EITHER!”
Beautiful Teacher C:”Who has time for lunch?”
Me. I have time for lunch, because I MAKE time for lunch. My body, and my brain need fuel in order to do the job of teaching, and so does yours, because teaching is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding.
I cannot say that I have ever truly been guilty of this. I am an eater. I LOVE food. I’m Italian, so it’s part of my culture. Appetite for life, for love, equals an appetite for food. The three are as intertwined as the spaghetti noodles on my plate. I only share it here because I have seen teachers skip lunch SO. MANY. TIMES. This is NEVER good! Make time for eating your lunch. If my students are eating, I am eating, too. Do it. Do it. Do it. or rather: Eat it. Eat it. Eat it.
If you are in a school that does not allow teachers the time they need for eating lunch, you are in a TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, VERY BAD, NO GOOD school. Leave. Do not return. I have worked in a school like this, so I know what I am talking about/what you are going through. I still made time for lunch. On rare occasions I have finished my lunch in the classroom while my students work, or do silent reading, or play at recess.
I don’t want to be the HANGRY teacher. I want to be the HAPPY teacher. EATING means FEEDING your BODY. This is very important. How in the giant green blue world are you going to give to your students if you have not supplied your body with the energy needed to do the work of teaching. Work uses Energy; Energy comes from Food. I could be wrong here, but isn’t this basic science? I cannot stress this enough: EAT YOUR LUNCH!
And last, for now, Focus on Developing YOU
Your job is nice, your school is great, your boss is AMAZING (Seriously, how does she/he do all that?), but in the end you cannot take it with you. You might not even be able to take your carefully organized bulletin board border collection. I know, I know. I loved mine too. Well, guess what? You love your curriculum? Can’t take it. Love your cabinets with their neatly organized files and boxes that you spent so much time labeling with color and patterned labels for ease of finding that one particular worksheet in a Kindergarten Moment? I’ll give you a ‘like’ and pin a picture of that to my board, but – Can’t take it with you. What you will take with you is EVERYTHING IN YOUR BRAIN, so spend most of your time and focus on developing YOU. Organizing You. Strengthening You. Improving You. Labeling – Oops, no, don’t label yourself.
We spend so much time perfecting our classrooms, and it isn’t even the MAIN THING. The main focus of your time and effort should ALWAYS be working your craft. Draw a big Pie Chart circle on a sheet of paper, mark out 80% of your time, color it any color you choose (I chose YELLOW), and label it: TEACHER CRAFT.
Yep. I really mean what I’m saying. 80% of your time goes to Teaching, and Developing your Teaching Skills. The rest, the mumbo-jumbo pile of things others say, think, or expect us to spend our time doing? It gets the 20%.
This means every thing that is teaching or about teaching: reading literature/blogs/books about teaching, watching videos, YouTube, and vlogs re: teaching, and going to conferences centered around the topic of, you guessed it, teaching. Every lesson you teach, lesson plan you write, the experience you gain through trying new things/ideas/strategies, networking and discussing teaching with other teachers, getting feedback from teaching evaluations, and sharing them with other teachers, learning from one another’s successes and struggles, reflecting on your teaching in your ‘Reflections on My Teaching’ journal. It all goes into the 80% slice of pie. Or Cake. Or Pizza – which ever you prefer.
In closing, do not let anyone define success for you, in or out of the classroom. If I had a dollar for every time a parent, or well meaning friend tried to tell me how I should conduct business in my classroom. I’d have a LOT OF DOLLARS!!! In fact, I’d have so many dollars, I wouldn’t have to teach anymore. I’d retire.
So here’s me sending you blessings on your school year and hoping that the rest of your summer is restful and relaxing and peaceful and wonderful! You are wonderful, and you can do it!!!
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