Okay – one week in and I have completely forgotten to heed my own advice. I hit the weekend and felt burnt out and the academic year has only just started. So, I thought I would remind myself of an article that I wrote previously and you never know, it might help you too.
I started the article by saying ‘Thankfully, I have experience to fall back on and will be returning to my fail-safe tools for ensuring that I don’t burn-out.’ Hmmm! my experience hasn’t amounted to much this academic year yet.
However, I went on ‘I tend to forget about these in the first half of every year but rely upon them in the last half.’ Ooo! So this is a pattern – I burn-out quickly and then have to manage my time better in order to keep myself well in the second half of the year. Well surely if I begin to manage my time better now then I will have a year of no burn-outs and will just feel full of life the entire time! That being the case, I am determined that it is not going to take half a year to implement my top tips, so from Monday I am going to:
1. Decide what is important!
I learnt early on in my teaching career that I would never have an empty in-tray. Teaching is not an empty in-tray sort of job. So, how do I prioritise 50 million jobs? I ask myself the question – is this going to impact on the children’s learning, if it isn’t then why am I doing it and is doing it impacting on my wellbeing. That leads me on beautifully to point two…
2. Prioritise Wellbeing!
In that vein, when I do tick off an entire to-do list (which isn’t all that often), I suddenly think of new jobs that I could do. I could laminate ‘x’ and create a new display for ‘y’ and wouldn’t a brand-new resource for ‘z’ be invaluable? I will always think of more things to do, because I am a teacher and teachers are creative beings with minds that never stop. I have to remember that my wellbeing is more important than working 24-7.
If making that new resource or creating that new display is going to make me feel great, then it makes complete sense to do it. However, if I am going to do these things at the expense of my wellbeing, then I have to remember to say no. Which leads me wonderfully well into point three…
3. Be Brave!
Saying no is vital in this job. I didn’t learn that for many years and as a people-pleaser I found it incredibly hard to do so. Say yes if it will benefit you, the children you teach or you have the time. Saying no is incredibly hard but if there is limited or no benefit then please say no – your wellbeing will thank you for it.
Remember to have a break during the day. All too often, teachers try to do their work over lunch – marking with a sandwich in hand or worse still, not eating and just working. Undoubtedly, you got into school around 7.30am so will have already worked for around 5 hours, your mind and body are therefore in need of a pause, a chat, a laugh. You need to replenish yourself in order to work for the next 4-5 hours. We don’t work short days, so it is vital that we give ourselves breaks during them. Lunchtime and connecting with others is such an important part of my day.
I always tell students and new teachers to heed my mother’s sage advice…
- take at least one day off at the weekend
- don’t bring work home with you at night.
I try really hard to do this as I am no good to anyone if I don’t take time away from work. It is vital for my wellbeing that I spend time with my family, develop my hobbies and hang out with my friends. All work, no play makes Mrs B. a poor teacher. Sometimes, I don’t get all my work done at school so I refer to point 1 – have I done those things necessary for tomorrow’s learning? If the answer is yes, then why shouldn’t I let my hair down and relax.
It is okay to pause, rest, breathe and stop.
Remember, you are a human being not a human doing. Being is hard but will make you a much better teacher in the long-run. If you are a human doing you will burn-out. Last week, I was a human doing and at the end of the week I was no use to man nor beast. Let’s be human beings – looking after ourselves so that we are able to be the best educators that we can be!