After teaching 4 different preps, interacting with 80+ students, and handling endless paperwork, teachers leave the classroom feeling exhausted. However, few actually get to leave school empty-handed. Instead, so many are carrying home computers, papers to grade, and lessons to fix for tomorrow. Due to this, teachers are working on very little sleep. Instead of continuing this pattern, teachers need to stop tired teaching and start leaving work at work! Now more than ever, teachers need to make themselves a priority.
If you are more tired this year than in previous years, know you are not alone! Last year was exhausting; however, this year presents so many additional challenges. First, teachers are helping many students adjust to being back in the classroom. This includes so much emotional support and pep talks throughout the day. Second, teachers are having to teach a lot of the curriculum from last year with the curriculum from the current year.
This is due to the fact that there was an incredible amount of learning loss with the pandemic. Third, teachers are adapting to new curriculum, school policies, and being back in the classroom. Truly, there is so much to handle every day and it is exhausting! By the time the school bell goes off, so many just need to take a deep breath and relax.
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Ways to Leave Work at Work
Alter Teaching Strategies
As secondary teachers, it can be incredibly stressful planning multiple preps. For instance, 4 different preps mean 4 different lessons need to be planned for every school day. This is a lot of work! However, try and alter teaching strategies used in order to provide a breather throughout the day. For example, maybe one lesson requires a lecture or for the teacher to be up and moving the entire lesson. This can be mentally and physically exhausting to handle for each prep. Therefore, the next prep can have a student-based project. Here, you can instruct what to do and then simply walk around and help. Or, you can monitor discussions and provide input as necessary. It will be so nice to have a better balance throughout the day!
Create a To-Do List in the Morning
It can be mentally exhausting to remember each item that needs to be handled that day. Therefore, create a to-do list and organize it by the most important tasks. If something does not get done and is not time-sensitive, it is okay to handle it the next day. It will feel so great to stay organized and mark items off the list!
Use Your Commute Time Wisely
Whether there is a 20-minute drive or a 1-hour drive, the commute is so important. In the morning, it is vital to get into the right mindset. For some, this means listening to calming music or an audiobook. For others, it means reviewing items that need done for the day or reviewing lessons. On the way home, take some time to decompress. This may be reviewing the highs and lows of the day. Or, it may mean listening to more music or an audiobook. Whatever works for you should simply help create a positive headspace for the day or evening.
Allow for Transition Time
After getting home from school, many may instantly start dinner. Or, start going through bookbags for your own kids. However, allow yourself some transition time between teacher mode and home/parent mode. This may be drinking a cup of tea, watching part of your favorite show, or reading a chapter. Or, it may be doing a few yoga poses, taking a short walk, or changing into different clothes. It is important to try different strategies to see what works best for you.
Disconnect Email from Phone
As a secondary teacher, you work with 80+ students each day. Therefore, this can lead to a lot of questions, concerns, or emails from parents and students. However, avoid checking or answering these while at home. Honestly, many times it leads to frustrated feelings over students asking for an extension or something already covered in class. Therefore, remove email notifications from your phone. Instead, check them before school starts.
Don’t Take Work Home
This may be one of the hardest items to adjust with. However, leave the teacher’s bag at school. From now on, work stays at work. Yes, this may mean students receive graded assignments back a bit later than they are used to. They will be okay! After the contracted hours, it is time to recharge as a teacher.
Practice Self Care
In order to feel refreshed and ready to teach, teachers need to focus on themselves. For some, this means going on a walk, cuddling with an animal, or taking a nap. For others, this means working out, getting nails/hair done, or going shopping. Truly, self-care is an essential way to feel ready to take on so many daily challenges.
Teachers are humans. While they may have superhero powers, they should not have to act as superheroes. These strategies will help teachers take back personal lives and leave work at work.
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