When I start to feel overwhelmed or burned out, I turn on the music, and my students and I start to dance. I love playing music when the students are working in class. Music soothes the soul and lifts the spirits. My students love hearing music when they feel tired. I always like to play upbeat music that inspires the class to feel happy and laugh because laughter is the best medicine. Every morning before school starts, I play music (preferably 80’s) to help lift my spirits and start a new day fresh and ready for my students. The music also reminds me of my students and how much they depend on me for guidance and nurturing.
I love bringing art and STEM to my students on a weekly basis. Art touches the soul, and there’s no right or wrong when it comes to art. Being a teacher for 19 years and working at a Title I school, I’ve witnessed many heartbreaking stories. My students come from all walks of life. This is why, when I feel burned out, I think of my students and know that they need me. Art always brings a smile to their faces. Some students perform below their grade level. However, when they are provided with a paint palette and brushes, the possibilities are endless. Their spirits are lifted, and laughter fills the air.
This also holds true for STEM activities. My students feel a sense of teamwork when they can work together to complete a project. I always keep a sign that says “persevere” in my classroom. When my students (or I) feel down, I remind them to look at the sign and to never ever give up. I think of my students and why I became a teacher. It is to help them and open their minds.
In terms of organization, I always like to keep my “to do” list on a sticky note on my desk next to my computer and check it off as I complete each activity. Again, I turn to music as my inspiration to renew my energy. As mentioned above, music lifts the soul and brings a smile to my face.
The one piece of advice that I would have loved to have been given when first starting in this profession is to find something that makes you smile and that you are passionate about (music, art, family, etc.). Use that when you need to feel lifted and upbeat. Find a few colleagues that will provide you with inspiration and motivation to keep going. There’s always a few teachers in every school who are always positive and remind you why you chose this profession. Stay away from negative thinking. Think of the students that you are working with and know that they need you. You are their role model — and for some, you are their only role model.
Thrive Global is partnering with DonorsChoose, the leading platform for giving to public schools, on a new special section, How Teachers Thrive, to share the emotional and self-care resources teachers need to improve their well-being. If you want to help teachers create a more equitable playing field for all students, find a classroom project that inspires you on DonorsChoose.org, and enter the promo code THRIVE during checkout to have your donation DOUBLED during the month of August!
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