Tomorrow is the first day of school. I have spent a lot of time over the last three weeks working on my classroom (we didn’t have to go in until two Fridays ago for training). The room hadn’t been cleaned out in 6 years, so it was long overdue. This has put me behind on other things, but a lot of work now means a smoother year in the long run!
Like most teachers the first 1-2 weeks of school, my stress level is high. I’m going in for no more than 3 hours today, then just resting. Day 1 plans are done and I’ll finish the rest tomorrow during planning. Week 1 is a introduction week and we’ll start getting into material later this week, but mostly it’ll be assessment based. Week 2 will be the official jump in week.
I have one planning period a day (45 minutes) with two extra 45 minute periods on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is amazing!!! I plan on getting into school an hour or so before students arrive (plus eat breakfast and fuel myself with coffee) to make things smoother. Which leads me to the title of this post–how I plan on staying sane this school year.
- Remember what matters most and don’t sacrifice it
A job isn’t always going to be there. Cutbacks happen, things change at work, anything could happen. You know what will be there if you wind up losing your job? Family. Friends. God. Is that lesson plan really more important than spending time with those who matter most to you or focusing on your health and spirituality? Nope.
2. Planning ahead
This is true in the classroom as well as in your personal life. You should have back-up plans in your classroom because things happen and yes, you will need them. Spending 5-10 minutes planning out your week and 5 minutes adjusting it each day will make your day run smoother and prevent tension headaches later!
In terms of personal life, plan ahead as much as you can be it making doctor appointments ahead of time, making freezer meals or packing your lunch the night before. Little things can save you a lot of stress later.
3. Know yourself
Are you someone who gets stressed easily? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What helps you relax? This isn’t something you learn overnight, but comes with age and maturity. When you know YOUR limits and when to stop, you are well on your way to a successful school year.
Example: I’m an introvert so I need down time. I go into work early and make sure I have time in the evenings or a full free day during the weekend to be ‘people free’ or ‘people light’ (I’m a social introvert).
4) Use reinforcers and don’t forget yourself!
Microsoft may not think ‘Reinforcer’ is a word, but if you’re a Special Education Teacher, it should be a word you use daily in the classroom…and outside the classroom. We give students reinforcers for doing well and you should do the same with yourself! It requires some self-monitoring (and maybe taking data on yourself!) but you should use it too.
Don’t focus on just food items or drinking (for those who do), but focus on things that you like. For me it could be a number of things from it’s spending time with the people I care about, having alone time, playing video games or window shopping (to name a few).
Remember your health-mind, body and spirit are important and shouldn’t be forgotten! An unwell teacher isn’t a good teacher!
5) Remember, it’s ok to feel like you failed
Maybe that wasn’t such a good lesson. Maybe your classroom management isn’t as good as you wish it was. That’s ok. Teaching is a dual learning experience and you will make mistakes. Even veteran teachers make them. If you’re a relatively new teacher, don’t be afraid to utilize your mentor teacher too!
6) Have fun
What should be the most reinforcing thing in the classroom? YOU!! Your students should want to be in the classroom because YOU are teaching them things and making it fun. I have an unquenchable desire to learn myself and I want my students to share in that. Sure, school isn’t going to be the most enjoyable thing for everyone, but there is something every child can enjoy and love about school. If you have fun with it, your students will see that and remember the most contagious thing (aside from yawning!) is a smile.
I have a very good feeling about this year! I just need to get over the beginning of the year hump, the one that all teachers dread. I have my ducks in a row in terms of the hours I’ll be working, a strong support system and a ton of materials and ideas. Let’s get started!