8 keys to avoiding teacher burnout (part one)

 Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers.

1)  Love your students (even when they’re not so loveable!)

Enjoying and growing with your students is one of the most important ways to combat burnout. Unfortunately when you’re stressed, it can feel almost impossible to see the kids as the beautiful people that they are. It’s really helped me to build times into our daily schedule which force me to step back and remember what’s important.

For example, in our class meetings, I set a timer for one minute and the entire class greeted one another by name, usually with a handshake of some sort.  That’s all the time to takes for every student to smile up at me, shake my hand, and say, “Good morning, Mrs. Watson!”  This act alone sets the tone for the day and reminds me that I’m dealing with kids who have feelings, too.

I also had my students give a ‘fist bump or handshake’ when they left the classroom each afternoon. This personal acknowledgement gave me another chance to connect with each child and really calmed me down at the end of the day when I was feeling stressed.  Sometimes I also had ‘tickets out the door’—the kids wrote one thing they learned that day and handed me their paper (the ‘ticket’) at dismissal.  Having a written record that YES, this day was worth getting out of bed for because I did actually get through to the kids, was enough to help me keep going sometimes when feeling discouraged.

You can have lunch or snack with your kids as a reward every now and then—an unstructured time to just sit and talk about what’s going on in their lives really endears them to you (and vice versa).

Look for little ways like this to accomplish the goal of seeing students as individual people with unique needs, feelings, and experiences. Sometimes the school system trains us to think of kids as machines that can be pushed to the limit every minute of the day and perform at 100% of their ability regardless of outside factors, and we have to intentionally do things to remind ourselves that this is not the case.

When kids feel cared for and respected, they will work harder for you and follow your rules, making the day less stressful and more productive for everyone. It’s worth taking the time and energy to connect with your kids, because the payoffs are ten fold!

8 keys to avoiding teacher burnout (part one)

2)  Focus on your big picture vision

It’s easy to get caught up in the little things that are so frustrating about being a teacher: repeating directions over and over, dealing with the same behavior problem from the same kid every single day, completing meaningless paperwork, grading a million papers…and if you focus on the small things that drive you crazy, you WILL get burned out.

There is a reason you became a teacher—was it to make a difference in a child’s life?  To express your creativity?  To immerse yourself in a subject you love and inspire students to do the same?

Reconnect with that part of you.

Write out your personal mission statement and post it somewhere in the room where you (and maybe only you) will see it throughout the day.

Create goals that you know you can meet and celebrate your success when you reach them.

Don’t major in the minors or allow yourself to become discouraged by distractions. The extent of your work and your impact goes far beyond what you see from day to day. Seeds are being planted, and lives are being changed, whether you see the results immediately or not.

8 keys to avoiding teacher burnout (part one)

3) Create a strong support system

I am blessed to have had at least one person in each school I’ve worked in that I considered a true friend—not just a colleague or associate, but a person that I could call at 2 a.m. with a flat tire and know that she would pick me up. When I was single, I hung out with someone from my job almost every single day, whether it was for something fun like shopping at the mall or hanging out on the beach, or something practical, like running errands together or keeping an eye on her kids while she cooked dinner for us (a good trade, I might add.) Knowing that I had someone I can go to with any problem, personal or professional, was the main thing that got me through the day sometimes—that thought of, whew, in an hour I can go next door and just vent!

If you wish you had friends like that in your school, give it time.  Because teachers spend so much time isolated in their own classrooms, there aren’t many opportunities to get to know one another, and it can take awhile to get close to your colleagues. Be open to opportunities, and don’t write anyone off–I’ve often bonded with people that I would have never imagined myself growing close to! Even finding just one wise person you trust and can share ideas with might be all you need.

When time goes by and you feel like you still aren’t making connections with anyone in your current teaching position, you could also consider moving to another grade level or even school where there are teachers that have similar personalities (and ideally, life situations) as you.  Having a strong support system is just that critical, and it’s sometimes worth the move!

When a student needs a break and you have a trusted colleague, you can send the child to him or her to work for awhile, no questions asked.  When you miss a meeting, you have someone to take notes for you. When you’re rearranging your classroom or revamping your behavior plan, you have someone to bounce ideas off. If you have even a single co-worker that you can count on for that, it’s going to make a big difference in your energy level and enthusiasm at work.

Even if you don’t have true friends at work—or if you prefer to keep your personal and professional lives separate—it is important to have people you trust and can go to when you’re stressed at school.  Your spouse, friends, and family do NOT understand what it is like to be a teacher unless they have been educators themselves—what we go through on a daily basis in completely beyond the realm of imagination for the general public.  You need to talk to another teacher who understands the pressure you’re under, so seek people out in teacher Facebook groups, message board forums, Twitter chats, and so on. Join one of my book clubs or The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. There are fantastic teachers out there who want to offer support and friendship!

Don't let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life

4)  Focus on flexibility and express your creativity

For me, one of the best aspects of being a teacher is the ability to be creative and let my classroom and daily routines reflect my personality and interests. Before you complain that YOU don’t have that kind of flexibility, let me assure you, I taught in Florida where third graders were automatically retained if they didn’t pass the state standardized test, so I was under a tremendous amount of pressure.  We had to have our schedules posted and were supposed to adhere to them at all times. Our lesson plans had to be planned as a grade level team and followed precisely.

And even with these types of restraints, I still maintained a sense of freedom in my classroom.  Sure, I needed to teach a specific standard on this day between 11:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., but I could teach it any way I wanted—with apps, individual dry erase boards, games, manipulatives, group activities, music, and so on.

I’d start the lesson I had planned, gauge the kids’ interest, and then adjust accordingly. I don’t know of any teachers, other than those who have scripted lessons, who are not allowed that sort of freedom, in reality if not on paper.  Don’t lose sight of how awesome it is to choose many of the activities you do each day!

You probably have more control over your classroom than you realize. If your head hurts, you can have the kids can do more independent work; if you’re feeling energetic, you can teach using a game; if you want to sit down for awhile, you can call the kids to the carpet and teach while relaxing in a rocking chair.  We have a tremendous amount of flexibility that we CANNOT overlook.

Think about how many people sit behind a desk nine hours a day, every day, doing the work other people assign to them. Hardly anyone gets to change tasks to suit their moods and still be productive—we do, because teaching is as much an art as it is a science, and there are a limitless number of ways to teach effectively.

Yes, there are many limits and restraints on teachers that threaten to suck all the joy out of our profession. But when you focus on what you DO have control over and all the ways that you CAN be flexible and express your creativity, you return to that original passion you had for teaching.

You took this job because you wanted to do awesome things with kids every day. So do that! Stay focused on your vision rather than the restraints that create burnout.

Go into your classroom and focus on what’s meaningful. Use the flexibility and opportunities to be creative that you’re given. Surround yourself with awesome teachers and a strong support network so you don’t feel isolated. Return to your big picture vision as a teacher, and enjoy your students. You can do this, and remember–it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be worth it! Next Sunday, I’ll share four more keys to avoiding burnout right here in this post. 

8 keys to avoiding teacher burnout (part one)

 

Original: http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/blog

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Developing house rules for the obedient child (parenting)

Four Skills to Teach Students In the First Five Days of School

Children need reasons and direction to engage task

Many years ago, it probably was easier for an adult to say to a child ‘do this, or do that’. And what happened? The child engaged the task, without even asking, why? But children are at an early age engaging in discovery learning and critical thinking; they are inquisitive. It is true, children still go through the various stages in thinking and development, but being exposed to various media, as well as socialization that take place, they are encouraged to question and to explore different ways of thinking.
What adults are finding is that children no longer simply do as they are told but seek reasons as to why they should engage a specific task.
In some task, because of a lack of experience not all children can engage successfully, unless they receive direction. It is therefore left to their parents or/ and teachers to offer the necessary rationale for why they should engage a specific task and also offer the necessary directions to complete the task successfully.
Stay tuned as today’s podcast discuss this.

A positive attitude

What about the letter A.  The letter A, stands for the positive attitude you must always strive to possess.  It should be noted that one is not born with a positive attitude, but this is a quality that a person must cultivate.

To achieve in life, the success we pursue, it is crucial that our mental outlook be backed by a positive attitude.

An optimistic attitude, fuels your mental outlook.  As you move toward your life dreams, a hopeful attitude can carry you through, when life throws at you some unexpected situations or you meet with a brick wall appearing in your way.

The question though is, how do you develop a positive attitude?  Some persons are constantly exposed to environments which are emotionally toxic; a place where negative people congregate to listen to each other’s sermon of sorrows.

This environment can manifest itself in your work place or maybe it is in your school.  Sadly, sometimes it may be in your home.  To overcome such negativity, we need to create our own atmosphere of positivity.  How do we do this?

Firstly, we need to seek out and listen to the suggestions of persons who have a view point, that in spite of what life throws at them, they will succeed.  And that, in spite of the many failures that come their way, triumph is just around the corner.  They function as if to indicate, their achievement is just on the horizon, success is but an arm’s length away.  These are the people to draw close too.

Secondly, we also need to be mindful of ourselves, in order to create positive attitudes.  We can bring a negative outlook—a thought—from within our minds, to bear on our current life experiences, which may have little to no relationship.  While that previous thought or experience might be useful, as all our life encounters should be educational ones, that particular experience maybe out of place.  Therefore keep such thinking in check.

Thirdly, it has to do with the language we use with ourselves when seeking to create a positive atmosphere to thrive.  This has to do with negative self talk.  We can say to ourselves that it is not likely that we can accomplish our goals.  We may vocalize to ourselves that our endeavours can be done, but they can only be accomplished by someone else.

Sometimes a person can look at their abilities, whether they went to university or to college, their socio-economic status and use these to make judgments about how much of a contribution they can make in life.  And so a person may say to himself, that he should not take that step or that action towards his dreams, for it is not possible for him to succeed.

Negative self talk; a self defeating trait which can rob us of the things that matters to us, making us avoid the path which leads to success.  And so you must say no to negative language which can ultimately affect your thinking.  This can manifest failure in your life, even before effort is made, or prevent you from trying again if failure visits you temporary.  Your attitude therefore, must be goal oriented, to see life and all that it hurls at you, in terms of challenges, as part of the experience towards a greater good.

We now want to look at the letter L.  The word that the letter L symbolized for me, was a word, that at the time I was not willing to accept as part of the vocabulary of someone seeking success.  I said to myself, how could I say this word to these young minds.

The word is limitation.

As I prepared this presentation for those youths, I started to recognize that the word limitation, based on how it is viewed or understood, can indicate success or failure, triumph or despair, achieving your dream or losing all hope.

This brings me to a story involving a classmate of mine at the university I attended for my undergraduate work.

He was a friend and thinker, and really motivated to achieve. Yet this student had but one challenge, one limitation, and that was to write research papers.  He had the ideas, he knew where to get the information, he knew how to discuss, critique and synthesize the information, but strangely, when it came to putting it down on paper, he just could not do it.

What I found amazing, was that my friend understood his limitations and sought assistance from students who had mastered this technique of writing and editing, to a significant degree.

He had his dream of becoming better at writing some day.  But it was his limitation at that present time.  He understood that he needed to move on to greater things in his life, and was not willing to allow his limitation to prevent him from doing so; he was determined to graduate.

He therefore sought the necessary assistance, moved on and now for a few years has been working with young children and their families as a school guidance officer.

 

Exercise

Think about a recent problem you had in which it was difficult to find a solution. Recall how you felt when it seem you tried everything. Think about your anxiety level, was at high or low? Write down how you felt.  Think about what your attitude was like before attempting to solve the problem and at the point you felt there was nothing else you could have done and write this down.

 

Uncomfortable sacrifices

Finding solutions to problems are not always easy.  In the process of digging and searching for answers you will learn.  You will learn about what it takes to chase after a passion or path to your goals.  You will become better.

To become better at what you are doing or intend to do, you will have to make some uncomfortable sacrifices.   Rest assured that whatever pain you are going through, it will not last forever.  The pain will one day go away.  This is all part of the process of making you a stronger individual at the end.  This idea reminds me of a body builder I saw training.  The stretching and compressing of muscles; breaking down muscle fibres has a purpose to it.  The athletes do this, with the ultimate goal of making their muscles bigger and stronger.

Now, that is an uncomfortable sacrifice the athletes put themselves through.  I said uncomfortable sacrifices and not just sacrifices.

Why?

This is so, as some persons may be able to make a sacrifice, to do without something or to go for long periods of time without being involved with something they like.

Why is this so?

Because they can simply do without.  They can go through an experience with little to no stress on themselves as such, what they sacrificed, they did not really need for their survival.  And so, not really benefitting from the process.  It is as though what they gave was out of their surplus, and not from a need to become greater or to expand themselves.  What they did took little energy.

Why?

Because they had that surplus energy anyway.

Or possibly it was time they sacrificed.  But that was not uncomfortable for them, because time is not an issue, they had time.  For them, they were going to use time on something anyway and it just happened to be this activity.

For you to grow to your fullest capacity, there are times that your sacrifices will be uncomfortable.

 

NOTE: It should be noted that each person must evaluate their actions and see what is in the best interest for themselves and the people who depend on them.  It will therefore be unwise to give up time and energy on a pursuit, that in the end will rob you of having good family relations, be endangering to your physical and mental health, and for some, moral wellbeing.

LIFE WITH EXPECTATIONS

Be as careful of the books you read as of the company you keep, for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.-Paxton Hood

It is no secret that most persons have the desire to start something great in their lives.  But the problem with most persons is that the knowhow to sustain an action that will get them to where they want to go remains a secret.  And so, with the passing of time their goals, dreams or aspirations dwindle into oblivion.

I want you to think of an occasion in your life when you made a decision to make some change.  This can be anything.

Try to recall the oath you made with yourself.  Maybe it was an exercise programme you wanted to implement.  You bought your sports clothing; matching shoes to go with it.  You made a schedule, and even started.

The first day of your exercise programmed was great, and then the second too.  Then the rain fell.  It is wet outside; you shouldn’t go out today, maybe tomorrow, a thought running through your mind.  You acted on it.

Then tomorrow came and you remembered that this was a rest day, so you can’t go out today, no, you shouldn’t, that will be cheating.  Remember the plan, the plan has a rest day built in, you already got thrown off with the rain this week.  Another thought entering your mind.

Before you know it, exercised days become swamped with other activities but exercise. Activities such as TV watching, or going to the movies may become priority. Now do not get me wrong, I’m not saying that anything is bad about these however the time they start occupying, are time originally set aside for exercise.

The gym equipment you purchased at home now becomes a hanger for clothing.  In this case, the plan to live a healthier life style, got side tracked.  A habit of consistent discipline for exercise was not developed.

I know of persons who are planning forever to return to school and finish that degree they started.  The days turned into months and the months into years.  The drive to complete the remaining course then vanished.

What is the course for that?

There can be many reasons.  But failure the stick to a plan of action consistently, speaks to a faulty process of forming the habits to take you where they want to go.

People want to achieve so much in life, too be more spiritual, learn a new language or to develop better friendships or greater wisdom in some area of their lives.

Some persons are able to accomplish so much in life whereas others struggle.

So what may be a significant deciding factor as to why some persons never achieve their dreams?

The answer could be as simple as that, they failed to develop proper habits.

When goals are not attained, most will just give up or frustrate themselves with self blame and doubt. When, what you should be doing is looking at are areas to develop more positive habits. If these habits are developed, the same persons get an intrinsic value that becomes beneficial to them in a significant way.

You see, people tend to be energized when given rewards—intrinsic or extrinsic—for their industriousness.

When we experience successes in life, owed to calculated actions and attention paid to details, we are motivated to repeat the behaviors which made us successful.

It is as though, through a learning process, we pair achievements of our goals with a specific routine.  This routine over time becomes automatic.  These are habits.

Good habits, they bring less pain physically or emotionally, as such, they are then repeated again and again.  The expectation is that we have similar positive responses each time.

If this good feeling is not experienced, or disappointments prevail, one of two positions is taken:

  1. One position might be to give up and no longer chase our dreams.
  2. The other position is to make adjustments to our routines and persevere.

Behaviorist Ivan Pavlov supported this idea of pairing specific action with outcomes.  In his work on, classical conditioning he showed that you can pair two things together that is as though they become one and the same.

Borrowing from this idea, we can see how we can pair together good habits and productivity. In other words, good work habits come to mean productivity and vice versa.

Developing powerful habits can propel plans.  Powerful habits can get you from the point at where you are right now in your life, to where you want to be.

From today, from this point on ward, you are going to succeed.  You may have tried before at various endeavours and experienced some type of setbacks.  But you will overcome, you will achieve greatness.  I therefore say to you, it is possible, and within your reach to accomplish goals you set for yourself.

Your approach to life, your attitude to growth of what is humanly possible for you must change.  After you have read and put these steps into practice, you will not remain the same.  This means that you must continue to be progressive in what you do to make your dreams a reality.

Someone once said that: “Good things come to people who wait, but better things come to those who go out and get them”.  So let nothing prevent you from achieving all that you possibly can.