Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Post: Five Ways I Stay Sane as Teacher

Teaching is such a rewarding career. It is also one of the craziest. I’ve heard of people who make a job out of “extreme skydiving” or “extreme rock climbing,” but I’m almost certain that these jobs can’t get any more extreme than teaching. When I first started, I often felt like I was in the midst of a category five hurricane. I never really felt in control. Today, it’s a different story.

It took some time, but eventually I learned how to manage my classroom and find my Zen. This came from learning though my own experiences and taking advice from other teachers. This job may have tried to break me down in the beginning, but by practicing a few habits, I now stay calm in the eye of the storm.

As others did for me, I would now like to offer my own advice on how to stay sane as a teacher:

1. Keep a diary: This could be because I teach English, but I discovered that when I wrote about a day that didn’t go particularly well; the day never sounded half as bad when I read the diary entry back to myself. I have dozens of diaries now. It’s my way of purging bad feelings and thoughts.

2. Bring the comforts of home to my classroom: The floors in my classroom are tile, which seem very cold and hard. To warm up my space, I purchased a colorful yet durable rug and placed it under my desk. I also placed a few framed family photos, a pretty lamp and a radio on the bookshelf behind my desk. This turned the classroom into my classroom which, for some reason, gave me a greater sense of comfort and control.

3. Stay healthy: Teaching is a pretty germy job, and the stress can beat your immune system down even more. After a few bouts of the cold virus, I realized that I needed to start taking better care of my body. I now take a daily multivitamin with extra Vitamin C and try to work out at least four times a week. I also stopped drinking coffee all day. After my morning cup, I only drink water the rest of the day. I’m not saying this prevents sickness, but I definitely feel better than before.

4. Keep reading (or keep practicing a hobby): I teach English, because I love reading and writing. However, when I first started working, I became inundated with my lesson plans and didn’t write or read a new book for at least 14 months. This actually hurt my students, because I was losing the passion I had for the subject. Now, once I finish a book, I move on to another one, and I write in my diary nearly every day.

5. Keep work at work: I found that when I brought my work home, I never took the time to escape from my job and enjoy my family and hobbies. Even if it means staying later, I now try to finish all work at school before going home.

Another thing I had to do was learn how to let go and realize that no teacher is perfect. Honestly, once I came to that simple realization, most of my anxieties disappeared.

By: Lori Hutchison
Lori Hutchison teaches high school English and owns the site: http://www.mastersinteaching.net/.  In her spare time, she enjoys writing guest blog posts about various topics of interest; especially teaching!