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!
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.
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!
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.
Solution focused brief therapy techniques are really designed to assist persons to find effective solutions to problems and in the shortest possible time.
Therefore Solution Focused Therapy, in family meetings can greatly assist family members to work proactively and quickly find solutions together.
Table of Contents
Describe the problem.
Identify the extent of the problem.
Family interaction meetings.
Comfortable atmosphere and space
Develop an agenda
With our continued shift to a technology driven society, few days go by that I don’t have a conversation with someone concerned about “today’s kids’ ” lack of “Soft Skills.” As the mother of 2 of these aptly named “GEN Z” babies…I can understand the worry. As an adult who has simply adapted to the culture, not grown up in it, I often find myself buried in my mobile phone rather than having an actual conversation. I’ve even recently learned a “wear your ear buds to avoid conversation” trick when I’m exhausted…from my twelve year old.
Yet soft skills remain some of the most important things employers look for when hiring according to the Jobs Can Blog https://www.jobscan.co/blog/top-resume-skills-for-2016-2/ . As educators our job is to ensure our students are prepared for success when they leave our classrooms/schools. I wholeheartedly believe a HUGE portion of this success will increasing revolve around how well our schools teach students soft skills.
Here are 5 Soft Skills that are currently the “Most Often Looked for by Employers” (Jobs Can Blog) and some suggestions on how to incorporate them into your classrooms/schools this year:
- Working together toward a common goal.
- Functioning successfully in different team roles
- Putting the “Team’s Success” before personal success
Admittedly, I was a student who cringed when the teacher would say we were “working in groups.” I would end up doing the entire project/assignment myself due to my Type A personality (among other things)! There was NO Teamwork in these groups.
Thankfully, today I can say I have seen group work done so well I would’ve asked for it when I was a student! The key to this awesome group work I’ve been has been 1) Assigning roles to each team member (which changes with each assignment/project) 2) Clear expectations of the duties to be performed by the student assigned each role 3) A system of checks/balances in place to ensure the group is functioning as a TEAM with each student staying on task with their role. GROUP WORK IS GREAT…but it takes A LOT of work on the front end to establish norms, systems, and behavioral expectations to make “Groups” into functioning TEAMS! Teaching successfully in groups is one of the more masterful arts of our profession.
Another outstanding way to promote teamwork in your school is to encourage participation in an activity, club, or sport school-wide. (For example- Many schools require all entering Freshman to participate in at least one activity.) Increased social activities along with the group activities/teamwork are great ways to build soft skills in even the most introverted student. These can be done during an “activity” period in the day, during excess lunch or recess time, or even after school (if that’s the only option).
- Making a choice based on evidence gathered
- Being definitive…based on goals
Allowing students to choose from a variety of assignment types to show mastery of a skill is a great way to cause students to begin to critically examine their individual decision-making. Instead of “just doing what my friend does” students begin to look at what they would really prefer to do or what allows them to show they have mastered the skill in the most efficient (fastest and best) way.
Another example is providing students “student voice” within the school. Give them spots on committees and other duties that require responsibility. This demands a huge amount of decision-making; 1) are they willing to do it 2) decisions they have to make through the process This is a great way of giving students a “window” into the world of the adults in the school.
- Talking face to face, making eye-contact while speaking, understanding social norms in various situations
- Appropriately using Social Media for communication
Modeling appropriate ways to communicate can go a long way. Educators must assume students are not being taught these skills at home (most are not). Assignments that require interviewing adults, peer-to-peer questioning, and other communication via non-technology means (no emails please!) are great assignments for this. Make sure you do not assume students know how to do properly do this (they usually don’t); provide live examples for them.
Telephone (land line & cell) conversation etiquette is something that needs to be taught. What you should or should not say, text, or post to social media is a very important piece of information that can impact your students’ futures long after their lives in school.
As a school why not train students to greet visitors and give tours. No better way of learning communication skills than actually putting them to use in an important setting.
4) Planning & Prioritizing
- Scheduling for optimum production over time
- Doing what is most urgent first then following with items in order of importance
Educators have a great opportunity to scaffold students’ abilities to plan & prioritize. Long-term goals provided at the beginning of a class that have multiple components and will not be due until far into the term are a perfect example.
For younger students, allowing them to prioritize what needs to be done first in a project versus giving them step-by-step directions is a great way of building students’ prioritizing skills.
As a school it’s important to plan and prioritize and your students can be part of this. Student leaders can maintain an activity schedule they create among the different clubs and activities in conjunction with school administration. Along with planning and prioritization…this also requires the other soft skills we’ve already discussed.
5) Research Skills
- Finding information from a variety of sources
- Ensuring information is truthful & meets actual research needs
- Ability to cite research
Long gone are the days of the card catalogue and the bound encyclopedia from our students’ research repertoire. Teachers are now responsible for instructing students on how to navigate “the Web” for their research needs.
Students must understand the difference between a credible source on the Web and one that may not be credible as well as where to go to find each. Along with this tall task we also must make sure our students understand the importance of citing works and how-to do this when using electronic sources. Thankfully, there have been several tools created to make this simpler.
As a school, moving to e-portfolios that require students to keep a sampling of their work for each term (with various different specifications for different schools) makes great sense. A requirement like this would not only provide evidence your students had appropriate research skills and were applying them in their classroom; it would also show the growth of these skills over time.
In the family circle, regardless of the composition of your family, working together as a team is very important to successful family living. I will like you to read this article and seek to implement any of the strategies which you might not yet be using in your family.
The Importance of Teamwork in Families
Family members who work together can help balance each others’ strengths and weaknesses and bring everyone closer together, reports the University of Illinois Extension. Parents who work as a team have a positive impact on their children’s emotions and relationships. Kids who work as a team can increase their sibling bond, tend to watch out for each other and want to help and take care of one another.
Working together makes each member of your family feel good, notes the Students Against Destructive Decisions. Teamwork increases good feelings for both the helper…
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