Making the life long commitment to be a teacher is no easy task. From the outside, it may seem like a dream. When you are in the thick of everything, it’s anything but a walk in the park. See, teachers have two jobs. The one that is teaching kids, and the one that is everything else. And the one that is everything else, is sometimes WAY harder than the one that is teaching kids.
So teachers, give yourselves a little grace.
- Sometimes you don’t have time for yourself. It’s okay to lose your sh*t about the fact that you can never get alone time.
- But after you do, make a plan to take what you need. Work can wait. And don’t feel guilty about it. Your self care is vital to your success.
- Surround yourself with people that lift you up, rather than bring you down.
- When a parent or volunteer asks you if you need help, tell them what you need.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Take ideas from your team.
- Turn the lights off and lock the door while you are on your prep. And don’t feel guilty about it.
- Skip the dishes every once in a while, and spend time with those that you love.
- Don’t feel like you need to have a Pinterest-worthy classroom. Your kids won’t remember that part.
- Get to know your tough students on a level you never thought you could.
- Remember why you became a teacher in the first place.
- What you are doing is making a bigger difference than you think. And you are enough.
- Take a mental health day.
- Take your work email off your phone.
- And always remember “No,” is a complete sentence.
Now that you’ve heard from me, it’s time to hear from the Education to the Core Community. Here’s what they had to say:
“We have all been there far too many times!! My best advice, I even have to give it to myself, Is to step back. Look at if what you are focusing your time on is truly going to impact your ability to teach and impact your students lives. So often we get weighed down with the ‘little’ things and all of those little things cloud our true drive and passion, which is our kids and teaching. Just breathe, step back, and if it is something that needs to be done when you refocus, tackle it.”
“Its helped me a little to carve out a time to do all the “extra things.” I go into work for 4-5 hours over the weekend and do the emails, the lesson plans, the hanging of student art, all those little things that make me feel like a better teacher… but then, some weekends, I “take time for myself” and DONT go into work, and the rest of the week feels ruined.” -Kathryn R.
“Make a list. I printed out a free template for a teacher to-do list this year and it has been a game changer for me. It keeps me so much more focused on what’s most important!” -Nikki F.
“Find teacher friends quick! I’ve taught only 5 years. Last year I found two girls in the building who teach other grades. They are close to my age, things in common. We vent, we joke, we tell each other to leave the building, we do dinner nights. They are my saving grace and sanity!” -Lindsay H.
“Self-care is SO important. You can’t pour from an empty cup! This very thing was said to me my first year of teaching and I have to remind myself of this a LOT and remember that it’s OKAY to step back and leave things at school! It can wait. -Krystal L.
“Make your to dos more of a routine. Choose one day to stay later and plan. Choose one planning to grade etc. Also- know that it’s okay to say no to things. If you are feeling super overwhelmed step back and write down everything you are responsible for, if there is something you can eliminate or delegate do so! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in feeling like you’re barely getting by.” -Kristin V.
“Have someone you can lean on when you get overwhelmed and talk about it! One of my best friends is my suitemate and when I’m feeling overwhelmed I can talk to her about it. We share ideas and activities..it helps a lot! Also, making a little to-do list each day has helped me!!” -Kailie J.
“Make your to dos more of a routine. Choose one day to stay later and plan. Choose one planning to grade etc. Also- know that it’s okay to say no to things. If you are feeling super overwhelmed step back and write down everything you are responsible for, if there is something you can eliminate or delegate do so! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in feeling like you’re barely getting by.” Kristin V.
“Find a hobby that has nothing to do with school.” -Alexis B.
“Get organized and stay organized. It is super helpful and prevents making tons of lists that makes things seem overwhelming. It helps create a work routine and gets me out of the door by 3 everyday.” -Heather B.
“Realize you can’t do it all. Do what you can and realize “you are enough”. Not all the bells and whistles. Each day take time just for you doing something you enjoy like reading a book or taking a walk.” -Kimberly H.
“Prioritize! Get the important things done first and create a schedule where you can do the rest a little each day before you go home. Stay on top of your paperwork and remember to have fun! We get to work with children every day, children who completely admire and adore us (whether they show it or not.) -Emily P.
“It’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to say “no” when people ask too much, and it’s okay to not have all the answers. Leave work at work, and find something that helps you feel at peace when you’re not at school. Make it sacred and make time for it each day, because your heart and spirit deserve the same amount of love and care you pour into your students daily.” Chelsea H.
“When you start feeling crazy overwhelmed, just stop. Go home. And live your life, without thinking of work! The work will always be there the next day!” -Katherine H.
My favorite quote this year my team teacher said, “I will do what I can do & what I can’t I won’t” -Tiffany G.
“Remember the world will not stop spinning if you don’t get it all done today. Prioritize and do the must do list. Go home, take care of you, and remember tomorrow is another day for a fresh start.” -Elizabeth C.
“After 20 years in the profession, my #1 advice would be stop everything and get some sleep. You’ll be able to figure it out after that.” -Jennifer A.
“Do your best to distinguish between things you “need to do” and things you “want to do”. Reward yourself when you can “cross off” an item on your “need to” do list. Subscribe to a daily motivational quote app. Warm fuzzies can give the push we need. Lastly make time for you; stop for that coffee, take a break and watch your favorite show, socialize with colleagues… you need a balance of work and play!” -Rachhel S.
“If you are overwhelmed, do not offer to take on more extra duties. I know schools tend to target the young teachers as ones who they can expect to sign up for everything, but don’t offer up services. Honestly, more veteran teachers are who have figured out how to budget time, handle classroom management, and not feel overwhelmed. So do not feel like you need to volunteer when no one else steps up, and if you feel cornered, be honest and explain that your first priority is your classroom and it’s needs. Administration SHOULD look at that as you building your teaching skills. And I have definitely carved out one, full 24 hours on the weekend where I do not focus on school at all. Helps a lot with being able to reset and be mentally prepared for the week ahead.” -Carren G.
“Get adequate sleep at night. at least when i sleep i can figure out the things that i didn’t finish and work more efficiently because my brain isn’t mush. and wine. lots and lots of wine.” -Marcy B.
“Focus on one task and just finish that. Then move on to another one and finish that.” -Allison B.
“I am a first year FULL time teacher. I was part time (Title one) teacher last year. I got to leave everyday at 12:15 and took NO work home with me last year. This year I am full time and have so much extra work. I also have two young children. Ages 4 and 5. There are times I am completely overwhelmed. I take it day by day. I am truly trying to understand that this job….the work will never be finished. There will always be more to do. I also know that my own kids will never be this age again and I will never get this time back with them. I do my very best at work. I love my students to the fullest. I get to work very early so I can leave right after my students leave. I treat all my students the way I would want my kids to be treated. I do my best but I also know I make mistakes (Hey….we’re all human!) I always remind myself that “Tomorrow is a new day…” -Ashley M.
“Make time for yourself. Don’t come early and stay late every day because you will burn out before you know it. Everything will get done in its own time, but work/life balance is SO important. I find that I actually get more done when I make time to go to the gym before work and leave by 3:30.” -Marissa E.
“Do the task you are least excited about that needs to be done first. Then move onto the fun stuff because the drudgery will be over and not nag at you.” -Vivian S.
“You are not alone. October is one of the hardest months as a teacher. Morale is low and you’re in a lull from the excitement of the beginning of the year. Press on. November and December are coming. Take a few minutes in your day to just laugh with your kids. Screw the lesson plans. Look in the mirror and tell the person you see they are awesome and the students in their class are so blessed to have YOU as their teacher.” -Carrie O.
“If you are the only one telling yourself that something HAS to be done right now, then it probably doesn’t. Put it aside and spend time with your family.” -Be N.
“I tell myself to relax, and that everything will work itself out. I try to get to the gym when I’m overwhelmed. It helps!! And tell yourself do the best that you can today. Try not to think too far in advance. Be your own cheerleader! Tell yourself you’ll be okay, the children will learn!” -Justine S.
“Be sure to self care because you can’t give from an empty cup.” -Cheryl A.
“Ask for help, find a mentor you can talk to and when all else fails take a deep breath and know that this too shall pass!” -Samantha K.
“Set a time that you will leave at everyday no matter what. It will always be there tomorrow and we could stay in our rooms everyday till midnight and not be done. What gets done before your time to leave is just what you get done.” -Shawna N.
“Simplify. You don’t have to do what you think everyone else is doing.” -Michelle C.
“Make a list and prioritize. Don’t try to do it all in one day. Celebrate the small successes, whether it is yours personally, or your students’. Take note of what you’re doing that’s working!” -Laura S.
“Practice being okay with “good enough”, and stop thinking of it as a bad thing. Progress not perfection!” Sarah B.
“You’re not the only one. Our job has become impossible to do without letting someone down, whether it’s our students, our friends or our family. So try to understand that some things you will have to let go of so that other things can happen.” -Victoria V.
“Start a mini gratitude journal where you jot down your successes and things that made you smile. Keep a folder, I call mine “for smiles” where you tuck all the notes from students, parents, and coworkers. Then, you can look back when you are having a tough day.” -Shannon A.
“Find the humor in the insanity. I have a couple of buddies that I go to vent because I know they’ll make me laugh about it. It won’t fix everything but you’ll feel better!” -Angela B.
“Laugh with your class every day. Look for the positive.” -Debbie B.
“Find a stop sign. Like a literal one that you pass everyday on your way home. Don’t let yourself bring your school stress & worries past that sign. Some days you might have to drive around the block to leave it all behind but let home be home.” Jessica V.
“Time limits! This year I started forcing myself to leave work within a 1/2 hour after my duty day is over at least 3 times a week. I have been so much happier.” -Devorah B.
“Take it one day at a time. Think about what went right today – and what didn’t. Tomorrow start fresh! Work in those things that were good and focus on an hour or a half an hour at a time. Give yourself a little break -you’ve earned it! Your favorite coffee, a yummy treat or a 10 minute chair massage. Try to remember you’re making a difference in your students lives.” -Cathy E.
“You can’t do it all and you have to be okay with that. Rely on your team and remember that it takes a village!” -Kristin G.
“I had similar situation at the beginning of the year. I had to tweak and tweak my schedule repeatedly, until I found a solution that worked. I also did what was suggested above, I took it hour by hour and then morning by afternoon. I incorporated ALOT of movement. Even more than what I initially had planned. The extra movement and shift in schedule made a huge difference. My kiddos have came very far.” -Crystal L.
“Prioritizing is essential. Your stations, room decorations, and everything else doesn’t have to look just like you want. I rearrange and change something every year and I still have ideas for improvement. It’s been hard but I’m beginning to learn to let go of it and let it be what it’s going to be this year. I like to pick a different area to really focus on each year to improve. One year it was my behavior management – my strategies and the way I displayed it in our class. One year it was my teacher corner and learning to deal with all the paperwork in a timely manner, and one year it was my guided reading structure and differentiated stations. Also – don’t feel guilty for taking a day off for yourself. I think because of the amount of work it takes to write sub plans and secure a sub it can be easy to feel guilty and like it’s not worth it. But sometimes it is!” -Angela A.
“Once you realize its not going to look like pinterest every day and that is ok, it gets easier.” Erin T.
“Surround yourself with amazing people who will laugh and cry with you, lift you when you need it, and tell you the truth always. Once in awhile say yes to doing something with your group and leave the to do list behind. Compete against yourself only and not the teacher next door. Take time to breathe and focus and love on the kiddos; they will rejuvenate you!” -Susan K.
“Give yourself grace! It’s never going to be perfect. And it if was, it wouldn’t be as fun or meaningful for the kids. Find a co worker to be your “person”. Then use that person as a resource, as a friend, and as inspiration. Remind yourself why you went into teaching. Look those kids in the eyes and know that no matter how you THINK you are doing.. those babies look up to you and think you are perfect.” -Brittany W.
“We have all been there. It’s a season and it will pass. Reflect on why you feel overwhelmed and see if you can change any of it. If you can’t change anything, eat some chocolate and pray for peace to accept what you cannot change. Make a positive journal and focus on the good each day. Spend time doing things you enjoy and spending time with people you enjoy.” -Cherie B.
“Positive vibes and just live life. Enjoy the ride.” -Carla G.
“Our job IS overwhelming. Every. Day. It is also the best. job. ever! At the end of each day, list at least 3 positives and one major accomplishment. Celebrate small wins every day. Take time at the end of each quarter to note student progress. And LAUGH! These kids are funny!” -Julie F.
So teachers…please, give yourself a little grace.
I hope you enjoyed this post from our wise teachers over in our Fearless First Grade Teacher Facebook Group. If you’d like to be a part of this amazingly supportive community, we’d love to have you!
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