Teaching is TOUGH. And sometimes life can be TOUGH. So, when life gets tough how do you still teach well?
Let me start by saying when hard things happen in your real life teaching can be double hard.
Sometimes it can be helpful to have that routine and those smiling faces every morning, but sometimes it can just be tough.
My second year of teaching I found out that my grandma, who I was really close with, died. I found this out during my teaching day. I wanted to cry, run, and just sit there, but I had students looking at me. I needed to take care of them too.
I got a BRAND NEW job a few weeks after I had miscarried my first babe. I was heartbroken and to be honest I used the job as a way to distract myself. But some days it was HARD!
Then, I got prego with my babe and was sick often. I threw up frequently at school. It was tough and I was irritable.
Through these experiences, I learned a little bit about how to be a teacher during tough times, but still, take care of yourself.
Also, I want to state that I know the things I have gone through are not near as tough as some stuff you might be going through. These are minimal to the things that might be going on in your life. If you need someone to talk to please reach out! I’d love to chat!
So, here is a list of my top tips!
Be Honest With Your Coworkers
My coworkers were my lifeline through all those hard times. They took my kids while they waited for a sub. They wrote my sub plans, they brought me a coffee when they knew my day was hard, they made sure that my kids had everything they needed. Without them, my students would have struggled. If I wasn’t honest about how I was feeling they may not have been able to help!
If I needed to puke, they watched my class. If I needed a break, they put in a movie for both classes. They were there.
If you can be that co-worker for someone else, DO IT! Ask your coworkers about their life. If you know they are struggling, HELP! You will need it one day. Bring them a coffee, take their recess duty, offer to watch their class during their special. Do something for them.
Have A Break In Your Day
Schedule a part of your teaching day where you can breathe. For me, this was enrichment time. I scheduled thirty minutes of my day where my students were working on enrichment projects and lots of kids were out of the room. During this time I would typically work with kids one on one, but if I was having a particularly hard day I could use that time to just breathe and center myself.
Take Your Sick Days
You are given sick days for a reason. You are still a GREAT teacher even if you have to get a sub once in a while. If you are having a hard day take a sick day. If you can’t get those sub plans, go back to tip number 1! 🙂
Teachers are such great people and they never want to leave their kids. I GET IT! I was like you, but I have learned that if I am not my best a sub would be better. The kids need me to be there for them, but if I don’t take care of myself I can’t do that.
I know a lot of teachers that run themselves sick. They don’t exercise or eat well and they work UNREAL hours! You are important. Your students are important too, but so are you. You need to take care of yourself, especially during hard times.
Schedule one thing every week that you can look forward to for self-care. For me, it was a date night with my hubby, a massage, or just a movie day. Have something that is for YOU ONLY and do that once a week.
Then, each day make sure you are moving your body and doing something not school related. Maybe you like to read. Read a book that is not for school. Take a walk, go to the gym, take a NAP, just do something.
Self-care is important all of the time, but especially during hard times.
Be As Honest As You Can Be With Your Kids
You are human and you are allowed to go through hard times. It is good for your students to see that you also go through things. Then, they know where to come to when they go through these things.
Obviously, there are some things that you can’t be totally upfront about, but you can tell them you are having a hard time.
When my grandma passed away and I found out during the day I went and talked to my class. I told them I lost someone important to me and I loved them so much. I told them I needed to be with my family and I would miss them for the rest of the week. I also told the parents. You wanna know what? Later that year when my student lost someone they came to me first because they knew I’d understand.
Now sometimes you can’t be honest. When I was pregnant but afraid I was going to lose the baby again, I couldn’t tell my kids. I was getting sick, but couldn’t tell the kiddos why. So, I was just honest. I said “Hey kids, sometimes the other teacher might run in because I am not feeling the greatest. I just want you to know that is why I might run to the bathroom and I still expect you on your best behavior.”
Simple as that. Telling your kids something is better than them wondering why their teacher is sad or why they are always in the bathroom. It is okay to be honest and in the end, it is better for your students.
Plan FUN Lessons
When life is tough your classroom can be a place of peace.
Plan at least one lesson a week that you are EXCITED about! You should be excited about every lesson, but you know there are lessons that you just love. Ones that make you giddy.
When you are looking at lesson plans make a lesson that you will be SO excited to teach. A lesson where you know your students are going to laugh and smile. Sometimes a lesson like that will get you out of the hard places. Sometimes they will get you out of your funk!
I hope some of these tips are helpful or hopefully it is just helpful to know you are not alone. Teaching and life can be tough, but I am here for you! If you are having a tough time and you don’t have a coworker to talk to EMAIL ME! I’d love to chat about ANYTHING! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I am here for you to vent, talk, or laugh!