For those mornings when you have to drag yourself out of bed...
I love my job, I really do. No, I'm not joking! I really love being a teacher, but that doesn't mean I love EVERY day.
It doesn't mean that I am not closetly (I'm not sure that's a word, but you know what I mean) jealous of that stay-at-home mom, walking her dog in yoga pants, as I drive myself to school.
'Cause some days I REALLY want to be that stay-at-home mom...
Like today! It's the day after Halloween and I'm gonna be honest, I didn't want to get out of bed this morning. It was warm and I was tired and my students were going to all be on candy hangovers...(I teach 12th grade, I'm choosing to believe it's candy hangovers).
But I'm a responsible human being, so I dragged myself out of bed, but only after promising myself a few things:
1. Extra Cup of Coffee
It seems like such a luxury to have one more cup in the morning. For you it might be tea or a soda; shout out to my Dad, the super healthy PE teacher who's famous for his Pepsi and a brownie before school ;).
The point is, have an extra of whatever school-appropriate drink makes you smile.
I had to add school-appropriate after thinking about what drinks make some of my colleagues smile.
2. To wear whatever makes me happy
For me that's gonna be jeans and tennis shoes...see that pic...HAPPY!
For you it could be shorts and flip-flops. Every once in awhile, it's okay! It's okay to be casual, to be comfy, go crazy!
Okay, shorts and flip-flops might be too crazy for you...I hear you...maybe for you, that crazy new bow tie is just what the doctor ordered.
Everyone's idea of a happy wardrobe choice is going to be different, and that's okay too...you be you!
3. Say YES!
"Can I turn in this late work?"
"Ms. Can I use the bathroom?"
"YES!" (Please don't ever say, "I don't know, can you?" I really hate that teacher).
Now I’m not saying to lie, put students in danger, or promise anything you shouldn’t deliver on, sometimes you have to be creative with your “yes.”
Student asks, "Brian is bugging me, Can I punch him in the face?”
“I hear you say Brian is frustrating you, can you explain to me what is happening so we can come up with a better solution together.”
I didn’t say “yes” ‘cause that would not be professional, even though sometimes I want to punch Brian in the face too. But I didn’t say “no” either. Hear the student out and work on a solution together. Everyone leaves feeling better.
Last week I didn’t say “yes.” A student who is habitually absent brought donuts to school and offered me one. I said “No, thank you.”
I didn’t give it a second thought until my principal told me, “Nicki, brought donuts the other day and purposely looked for me to offer me one; that was so sweet of her.”
Our school counselor was listening in and said, “She offered me one too!”
Then I asked, “Did you guys take the donut?” They both said “No.” We were all so stupidly worried about the calories we didn’t take the time to realize that we should have just said “YES!” Nikki had gone out of her way to do something nice for us and we didn’t think about how saying “No” must have made her feel.
The motto of every good retail establishment is to say “yes.” Why? Because it makes people happy! And when people are happy they come back, and isn’t that what we want? An environment students and teachers want to be a part of.
4. Be honest with students
“Hey kids, it was super hard to get out of bed this morning, I really wanted to sleep in! How about you guys?”
Students love to hear that you go through the same things they do, they want to know they aren’t alone. Being honest with students is a great step in building positive student relationships.
“Well we are here now, so let’s give ourselves a pat on the back for making a good choice and let’s make it a great day!”
I think you will be amazed at the sense of compassion and grace your students are willing to exhibit when you are honest with them. The patience and empathy they display when you are not at your best is heart-warming.
In fact, being the recipient of their patience and empathy can help you give them the same grace when they are not at their best.
5. Plan to take a future day off
Sometimes having a planned day off to look forward to is just the remedy for those days when teaching feels like the last thing you want to be doing.
According to a 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, just planning or anticipating a vacation can make you happier than actually taking it.
It can be a planned day with a substitute, or if making those substitute plans seems like too much work, maybe it’s just a fun activity after work.
Make plans with friends to go to a new restaurant, go bowling, see a movie, or go for a hike. Whatever floats your boat! In fact, some river time is exactly what I am looking forward too!
Having a fun activity to look forward to can make all the difference in how your day goes.
Now some words to the wise…DO NOT change up your class routine!
I know it’s tempting when you are having an off day to throw on a movie or play a game or try something different, but don’t do it! It can be a recipe for disaster!
Your most difficult students thrive on routine. They need to know what to expect and when to expect it. They need rules and they need structure. A poorly supervised class is one which will only add to your stress.
Give yourself a break!
On those days when getting yourself out of bed seems insurmountable, give yourself a break! You are awesome! Remind yourself you are awesome! Go out there and be awesome!
How are you or your colleagues giving yourselves a break? We want to hear from you!