Here’s what you need to thrive as a teacher this year
The start of a new year, new semester—even a new week!—calls for a blank slate. This New Year, focus on yourself and the longevity of your career in education by kicking off with an action plan to thrive, not just survive, as a teacher. Here are seven of our favorite tips to do just that.
Find out what “relaxation” means to you
Wherever you are in your teaching journey (fresh and new? experienced and motivated? or just plain tired on a Friday evening?), one of the best practices you can cultivate is dedicating quality time to yourself. The trick is knowing what you need to top up your energy levels. “Self care” means something different to everyone (here are 26 ways to interpret it!) and half the journey is working out what works for you. The other half is putting what you learn into practice.
Gather your team
“I wish there were fewer people who had my back and supported me,” said no teacher, ever. All educators, contracted and freelance alike, have colleagues. Your challenge this year is to enlist yours to help you thrive—and then do the same for them in return. Start with your staffroom environment, then look to external educator-friends and the greater teaching community. Cultivating these relationships, just as you would any other, is one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for a long, healthy career as an educator.
Learn, learn, learn
In short: Never stop being curious. Learn about teaching, read about developments in your subject area/s, and eat up psychology, neurology, sociology, politics—anything at all that impacts how people learn. However…
Pare down your input channels
…because it’s simply not possible to absorb and implement every piece of information you read, start the year by unsubscribing from email subscriptions that don’t excite you when they enter your inbox. Later, as the year progresses, think twice before signing up for more. Remember: Your time is yours to use well, and filling your inbox with emails destined for deletion (or that make you feel guilty for not reading them) isn’t a good use of it.
Try new approaches to old tricks
End lesson-planning ruts by challenging your preconceived boundaries of what you “like” to teach or are “good at” teaching. Don’t know where to start? Test the water by:
Exploring blended learning
or incorporating podcasts
Evaluate your own teaching
We officially challenge you to get into the habit of self-assessing your progress as a teacher. While it seems scary at first, over time you’ll notice how your skillset grows and teaching techniques become more flexible. The key to effective self-evaluation is consistency and a willingness to be honest with yourself. And remember: Unless you choose to ask for feedback, this is a personal, private, individual process.
Here are a few of our favorite tips to keep in mind on the road to resilience.
Name and feel ok about your emotions. This is as clear (and initially dorky-sounding!) as “Right now I am feeling frustration that my lesson didn’t go as planned,” or “I am feeling happiness.” The benefit of phrasing your feelings this way is that it separates them from the emotion itself. (Otherwise it’s too easy to interpret “I’m stressed” as “I’m always stressed,” which is not true.)
Ask yourself “what can I learn from this challenge?”
Request advice from a trusted colleague (we’ve already asked for a bunch of tips from experienced teachers)
Cultivate mindfulness. When you feel nervous or anxious, return to the present by asking yourself “What are five things I can see? Four things I can touch? Three things I can hear? Two things I can smell? One thing I can taste?”
Build new connections and stronger social circles by talking to someone at school who you don’t interact with regularly. Tip: they don’t even have to be another teacher!
Remember: when the semester starts getting hectic, return to these ideas and choose one or two to focus on. Bit by bit you’ll find your confidence increasing and energy levels staying strong—a sign of thriving, if we ever saw one!