If you have been teaching for a number of years or know of others who have been teaching, the winter months can bring on a particular set of challenges for teachers and students alike. The days seem longer, days are colder, students become more disinterested or else unmotivated to work and it just weighs on an educator. I’ve faced it and countless other teachers have as well I’m sure. I’ve read before about the phases of teaching in a given year before I started my first year teaching as linked here and the study has proven true, and I feel as though most if not all educators are feeling it in some regard.
However, here is some food for thought to help survive the winter blues or any blues that may come as a teacher:
- Remember you are here for the kids. Even on the worst days as an educator – when the students seem especially unruly, uninterested, unmotivated, uncooperative or even if you feel extra pushback or pressure from admin; remember why you’re teaching in the first place. Remember those ‘aha!’ moments and when the class was really with you. Remember when you shared a laugh with your students. Remember that your presence is affecting your students in a positive way even when it feels like it isn’t, you do matter and your students need you.
- Take care of yourself. I cannot stress this enough. Year in and year out, teachers are becoming burned out because naturally with our job, there are so many duties to fulfill and often little thanks for going above and beyond. This is why it is extremely important to take care of yourself. Don’t forget your hobbies or take up something new, set aside time during evenings and weekends where you do something you love, rest, exercise. Perhaps teachers feel that doing so is selfish or that time ‘wasted’ on caring for yourself detracts from the time you could use finishing a task. However, with teaching, there’s always something to do so why not better your mind and spirit with what you love anyway? It will get done eventually and trust your body and students will thank you for making sure you’re okay first.
- Laugh and enjoy the moment. It may sound cheesy and cliche but sometimes (actually, often) the best medicine is to not take things so seriously and laugh it off. It’s easy to take things personally in this profession but you really can’t and expect to succeed or thrive through any season of being an educator. Laugh, laugh and laugh some more. Please, you’ll do yourself a favor.
While these tips may seem obvious or on the other hand, hard to do (as even I struggle sometimes to follow sound advice); it is worth it to invest in these strategies to manage through difficult seasons in a teaching year. You just have to reflect on what works for you. In the meantime, enjoy this holiday season readers and make the new year a greater one!