Teachers' Tales

Staying motivated to teach 
as the term takes off


by Julia Hudson
on September 21, 2015

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School’s already back, so we’re past the point of talking about prepping classrooms and making schedules—at this point, you may even find that the shine has already started to wear off, and are starting to feel fatigue setting in.

So here’s a little encouragement and advice for teachers everywhere, who may be looking for a little support as they keep their energy up for the term ahead…

Let your friends and family know that you’re going to be busy.

If they don’t teach, they might not realise just how hectic the first few weeks of the school year can be. Many jobs don’t have the seasonality of education, so make sure you carve out some time and space for yourself to focus on getting things started smoothly in the classroom, and also to wind down at the end of the day.

Focus on your own long-term development.

As lessons start taking on life and the students are busily working away, it can be easy to end up in a reactive state and prioritise only what you’re working on at the moment. However, the best way to combat tiredness—or (whisper it…) burnout—is to give yourself larger goals. Can you find a peer mentor on the faculty to work with? Are you interested in adding to your certifications? Is there a piece of research or new book out that you want to make sure you’re on top of? Whether your goals are small or large, CPD is often vital to staying engaged and energetic.

Consider a journal.

At the time, writing a journal might feel like like extra homework for yourself, but taking a few minutes to document your day or week can be an incredibly useful exercise. When you flip through your entries later, you may well see patterns start to emerge that you don’t notice at the time—are you always worrying about the same students? Do you generally record negative events? Are all your entries written after 11pm? Don’t worry about setting hard and fast rules for how frequently you write—the point is just to see what emerges, and let off some stress in the moment.

Take pictures.

You bring a camera on holiday, so why not treat your classroom like the same sort of “fun” space? Posting candid classroom shots on a bulletin board can be a great way of building camaraderie amongst your pupils, and keeping a couple photos of memorable lessons or children helping one another will be a valuable souvenir for you when you need a little pick-me-up.

Make a community for yourself.

Yes, you’ve got fellow teachers, administrators, and parents to help you throughout the day—but you can also find support outside of your immediate network with a little creative thinking. Try a teacher-oriented podcast like Middle School Matters, Learning Lab Education Radio, and Techlandia—or even just finding a funny Tumblr to chuckle at, such as I Don’t Do, I Teach. Building your own sense of connectedness outside the classroom can help make the time you spend inside it that much more valuable.

 

What other tips do you have for combatting autumn’s flurry of activity and staying fired up about teaching? Let us know over on Twitter or Facebook by mentioning #teachingtips – and happy back-to-school!

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