When I am starting to feel overwhelmed or burned-out, I turn to my teammates. I look through their classrooms for ideas to see if there is something that I can change or add. I am on a few teacher pages on Facebook where we share ideas and try to help each other out, since most of the issues we face are universal. I have been taught that it is acceptable to take a mental health day so that I can take care of myself. If I burn out, I am not serving my students at the level they deserve.
What helps me to recover is crafting. I have a Cricut Explore Air 2, and I use it just about every day. It is also a way that I can make custom things for my classroom much more affordably. Additionally, I tend to believe that if I am feeling it, my kids are, too. So that is when I try to jazz up our regular routines and maybe do a lesson outside, or pair up with another teacher to co teach together. That tends to work wonders.
Something that I started last year was having one “parking lot” for my to do list. My students could write on sticky notes in a certain color, I would add things in a different color. This way, I had a visual of the things that I needed to accomplish. When I need new inspiration, I like to turn to my students. I tend to conduct a climate survey of my small groups and I have a suggestion box. I try to teach my students to be kind and to take care of everyone in the classroom, including me. We are a community and family. That ideology helps to keep the energy positive and productive.
Advice for a new teacher that I did receive is that it is okay to leave some tasks unfinished. You need to maintain your personal life and hobbies outside of the classroom. In my first year, I stayed after hours quite frequently. In the following years, I only allowed myself one or two days to work late in my room. I also made sure to schedule things for my family to do so that we are staying connected. Additionally, I’d tell that new teacher that you need to learn to laugh at yourself, allow yourself to make mistakes (the best learning happens when we mess up), and not give up. During your first year, it is very hard to see the difference you are making. Just wait until those kiddos come barreling down the hallway to see you next year.
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