Teaching–one of the toughest jobs on the planet. That is a fact. There are many people out there in the blogosphere and beyond with suggestions on how to improve our practice. There is good and bad in that.
But, for those of us in the trenches, waking up at 4:30 a.m. preparing breakfasts and lunches for our families, commuting, creating unit plans, lesson plans, collaborating, blogging, etc..etc.., how do we rise above it all, stay positive, and bring “it” everyday without losing our wits?
Step One: Keep The Core Strong- All workout routines, emphasize the importance of developing a strong core. If the stomach and back muscles aren’t strong, nothing else will work well. As teachers, we must decide what our core values are, and keep them strong. My core is God and family. I made a promise to myself that I would only work on school work (grading, lesson plans, research) before or after hours, meaning that I would not work on it while my children and husband were awake. It is easy to find myself slipping from this value, and allowing work to come first. The same is true for my relationship with God. I love being involved in a church community. It makes me feel stronger and more at peace. However, work can get in the way again. I can think, “Goodness, I really don’t want to stay up late tonight, or I’m just too tired.” This is a serious red flag that my priorities are out of alignment. The fact is if my core is soft, nothing else, including my teaching will work right. Cut back on the non-essential items such as social media and focus on the core.
Step Two: Keep Your Core Strong- Literally- I’m a firm believer in the power of exercise. If I push that out-of-the-way for too long, I will turn grumpy, and no one wants a grumpy wife, mom, teacher, or co-worker. Education is a fast paced, high energy field, it is vital that we take care of our bodies. Exercise is not always about physical health as it is mental health. I don’t want to be plagued with anxiety, and feel like I’m aging before my time. Exercise is a must. Always turn to exercise before prescription anxiety/depression medication or alcohol. Those are short-term fixes. Strong nutrition and exercise will have lasting benefits.
I love this clip from the movie, “Legally Blonde”..so true…
Step Three: Remember to Laugh– I remember being a teenager, and driving around on a Friday night, with the music blaring. My girlfriends and I would sing to the top of our lungs as we drove in circles around the movie theatre parking lot. Weren’t those days just the best! We must all remember the simple pleasures of life! It’s okay to laugh with our students, fellow teachers, or even the principal! Strong achievers know that laughter is the best way to keep it all in perspective.
Step Four: Know When to Bring It-Once the core is in place, and we are feeling right with the world, it is time to bring it! This means to do our absolute best in all ways while in front of our students and colleagues. Take five minutes before the students run down the hall to the classroom, and picture the image of the perfect teacher. In my mind, she is dressed professionally, well-groomed, bright-eyed, energetic, with a smile that could light up the room. That is what I want to be everyday. Sometimes, even when we aren’t feeling it, well, we just have to–fake till we make it–and there is nothing wrong with that.
As we approach a stressful time of year, with the standardized test scores looming ahead, these four steps might be vital in finishing strong. I know that I will be working on it daily, realizing that by keeping the core strong, everything else is a piece of cake!