As yet another student begs and pleads to turn in a late assignment from September, I stare past her envisioning myself curled up on my couch with a cup of hot cocoa. I am so ready for winter break. Yes, I. love. teaching. My students challenge me and inspire me each day. But I just wrote the 27th letter of recommendation this semester and I have a stack of essays that need grading and I have to enter grades from the last two articles of the week and I need to make copies of the final and I need to check the online portfolios for my EL kids and I have my daughter’s winter party and I have to finish holiday shopping… The list goes on and on and on.
Anyone else feeling a teensy bit overwhelmed and burned out? I start the year full of ideas, inspiration, energy. I end the semester running nearly on empty. Luckily, winter break presents teachers with a gift. The gift of renewal. A chance to breathe. A chance to recharge. A chance to focus on ourselves and our loved ones. This holiday season, take care of yourself. Do more of what you love. Spend time with the people you care about. Breathe. Relax. Play. Create.
When you return in the spring, carry the same holiday mindset with you into the classroom. Cranky teachers do not create optimal learning conditions…and we all become cranky when we give too much of ourselves. If we are frustrated and stressed, not only will our students suffer, our health will suffer as well. How do we combat classroom crabbiness?
Find joy every single day. Cultivate happiness by enjoying the time in class with your students and spending time out of class with your colleagues. Make time to eat lunch with department members and friends around campus. Collaborate with other teachers so that you not only have more adult time, you also get some lesson planning done. Chat with others in the copy room, at the sign in sheet, in the quad. If a cup of hot coffee puts you in a good mood, buy a coffee pot for your classroom and offer to share with other teachers in your hallway. Isolation Say something and/or do something kind for one person each day…kindness and gratitude are contagious.
Set aside time for yourself each and every day. In order to have 10-20 minutes to myself I wake up a bit earlier…before the three year old and the six year old come bounding into my room…before my husband asks where his tie is…before the email changing the day’s meeting time comes through. Most days I do yoga, stretching and savoring the stillness and silence of the day. Some days I write or read. Other days I simply make a cup of tea and watch the sun’s arrival gradually awaken the color of the sky. What time can you carve out of each day that will be just for you?
Teaching demands as much of our souls as it does our brains. Yet, it is probably one of the most rewarding professions that exists. The trajectories of lives are changed because of your influence. You will never know just how many students you have inspired. Each day remember the immense importance of your profession. Remember this and still take care of your own needs. Because you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
This holiday what will you do to help you relax? What plans do you have to play? What will you create? I asked a few faculty members the same questions and here is what they said:
Tina Centoni: I’m getting married in Ireland! I plan to dance the night away at my reception. On my honeymoon in Iceland, I hope to hike through an ice cave, swim in the blue lagoon, snuggle with my sweetheart under the Northern Lights and rock out to hours and hours worth of Rob Thomas as we drive 850 miles around the entire island. Oh, and kissing, lots and lots of kissing! And somehow I will also find time to read 🙂 And I plan to laugh my way through all of these adventures! Can’t wait!
Martin Kirby: My favorite activity is having no idea what I’m going to do… allowing me to surprise myself. I might travel, or not, learn something, or not, challenge myself or not. I know there’s likely to be few ‘or nots’…
Kerri Mitchell: Relax: Getting massages and watching a lot of TV; probably doing stuff with my kids too. Plans to play: Going to Vegas the day after finals to stay in a time share with the hubby and the kids. Also, probably taking the kids to Mmagic Mountain a lot (that does not answer the “what will I do to relax” question, of course…..). I also plan on spending as much time as humanly possible holding Michelle’s baby as soon as he decides to grace us with his presence. Finally, I plan to create a livable environment for my family: AKA a clean and organized house. It hasn’t been that way since mid-October…..
Brian Necessary: This holiday I will see my wife and kids for more time than a wave hello and goodbye. We will take a camping/climbing trip to Joshua Tree. I will build some furniture, and add plants to my yard. Finally, without question, I’ll be reading and listening to music.
Becky Nelson: I will relax by having time to be outside with family and friends. We have lots of meals and hikes planned with friends and family.
Nick Gravel: I will read some fiction and non-fiction outside of my content area so that I can expand my knowledge about the world and bring other content areas into my content area (math, science).
Cheryl Driggs: To relax…SLEEP and READ READ READ! My plans are simply to have fun playing with my grandchildren…you know…bridging the generation gap.
Gail Hart: Go to the gym, read a book, hang out with my family, hang out with my family, hang out with my family, hang out with my family. (then have a week of rehearsals)
What about you? Leave your responses in the comments below!
What will you do to help you relax? What plans do you have to play? What will you create?