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4 Tips to Thrive as a Teacher

The Christmas countdown has begun. X amount of days until our nativity… X days until our Christmas party…X days until our phase meal… X days until the end of term... 

So many things are piling up and last week I caught myself wishing the time away – ‘I can’t wait until I get that ticked off my list’. My attitude is entirely human and one shared with many of my teaching colleagues but it still saddened me. 

Time is a precious thing and every moment counts. Every comment, every lesson could have a profound impact on my students’ lives. However despite that enormous (and sometimes overwhelming) responsibility, every day is an amazing opportunity for me to make memories with my class. 

I had promised myself to live in the present. Give today your all and have a plan for tomorrow was meant to be my mantra but here I am, in Term 2, getting all caught up about tomorrow, next week, next term. I’m rushing around, my daily working hours are getting longer and longer and I’m starting to feel the burn(out). Winter’s a hard enough time to teach in as it is. It’s dark when I leave home and dark when I return. Our school heating can be hit and miss. Break time’s cancelled weekly, resulting in the dreaded ‘wet play’. So many bugs are going around at the moment that I feel like I’m participating in a Bushtucker Trial. 

So why am I making it harder for myself? This is when I decided to put together a little list…I love a list… to help keep me on the straight and narrow this busy term.

1) Eat, sleep and be merry - don’t skip breakfast or lunch, whatever ‘task’ it is, quite frankly it can wait. Food is fuel, it’s that simple. Sleep the hours your body needs - your class isn’t going to thank you for being cranky because you just HAD to mark those books late at night. Merry - the top of my list! Don’t forget to laugh. Prioritise the opportunities you have to catch up with your colleagues, don’t shut yourself off. Relationships get you through the tough times and build that community spirit that’s often underestimated. 

2) Get SMART with your lists – sure we have all heard SMART enough times to make us cry. I’m not talking about the well-known acronym, although I have nothing against it. I’m talking about basic, smart, logical thinking – don’t give into pressure and try to achieve the unachievable in a day. Think of the top 3 or 5 activities you need to get completed in the day. What ones will have the biggest impact on your students’ wellbeing and learning? They need to come first. What can wait? Put that at the bottom of the list or roll it onto the list for the next day. Are some of them quick wins? Get these completed first, it’s a real boost. What I’ve learnt… if something has been carried over to another day time and time again it probably means it isn’t crucial. You’re probably being a perfectionist e.g. trying to find the correct font for that display lettering for the staff noticeboard in your staffroom – my teaching assistants don’t care. Best to just cut it from the list and be ruthless. 

3) Honesty - it goes a long way. Be honest with yourself, if teaching isn’t making you happy then try something else. So many times I hear teachers discussing in detail the demands and how ‘teaching has changed’. The world’s changed. Trust me I left it, the grass wasn’t greener when I gave it a try; actually it made me appreciate the world of teaching a whole lot more. I’m now brutally honest with myself whenever I’m ‘overcome with the workload’ and I get a ‘can I do this?’ moment  – yes I can, I’m just being melodramatic. Also be honest with your line manager, your SLT. Not feeling supported at work? Not feeling appreciated? Not sure what is being asked of you? So many internal questions go on in teacher’s minds. Sometimes just asking them provides you with the clarity and focus you need. Just bear in mind though that it’s your job to be happy, your responsibility to find ways to enjoy your job… but others may be able to help you along the way. 

4) Vision – again, it falls into the overused word box for me. Seriously though, I truly believe that everybody should have a strong vision to see them through (and quite often you have one without labelling it as such). What’s your personal vision? Mine’s simple – my students should receive the very best and no less. I will never ask something of someone else that I would not be prepared to do myself. Our school, our classroom should always be firm but fair so our pupils grow into well-rounded adults that achieve their very best. 

Just remember to be kind. I know we’ll all be kind to our pupils, we will continue to nurture even in the darkest of times however do remember to be kind to yourself, to your colleagues. Assume the best and just be the best version of yourself you can be.

Check out these 5 benefits of giving.

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