While being in the classroom as well as lurking on teacher forums such as “A to Z Teacher Stuff”, I see the same complaints time and time again.
"There's not enough time in my day"
"I work way too much with little appreciation. I'm just over it."
"I have this one parent that makes me want to drive off a cliff!"
"My class is out of control."
Whether you're a first year teacher or a veteran, you are most likely dealing with at LEAST one of these problems currently in the classroom.
So I did a little research to figure out not only the biggest issues teachers struggle with, but strategies and tools to help handle them.
There is never enough for the classroom teacher. We're constantly checking our emails, grading papers, and taking endless piles of work home to finish. We are lucky to have family and friends that support us and understand. Even so, we feel like are brains are elsewhere and not at home.
Here are strategies to free up some valuable time.
Be Organized. This includes your classroom, your computer, and your desk. Hunting down lost papers or files is one of the biggest time wasters. Have systems set in place that work for you. Something that I do on my computer is organizing files within files. I also categorize documents by date.
Have routine procedures set in the classroom that students can handle on their own. Recognize what your students can do and then utilize classroom jobs. Students LOVE to help! When students first walk in they can take their own attendance by using magnets on the door. Don't try to do everything on your own when students can benefit from learning how to take charge!
Lose the mental battle. Let some things go. Recognize when you need a mental break and need to be with your family.
Just 5 minutes of mindfulness (being present in the moment) and meditation can actually make you MUCH more productive and save you time in the long run.
Shop TpT when you need to. Even though I have my own store on Teachers Pay Teachers with a ton of resources, I still shop other stores if I need something and I don't have time to make it. Teachers Pay Teachers is a savior in so many ways.
Teaching is STRESSFUL. There's no doubt about it. Mental fatigue can take over and you feel like you're trapped in a dark hole without a ladder to climb out. If you find yourself anxious, uninterested in things that you normally love doing, antisocial, and mentally exhausted, you may be suffering from Teacher Burnout.
Here are strategies to battle Teacher Burnout.
Figure out your main source of stress. What is the underlying cause of your stress? What are some things you can do to ease the pressure? Try to strategize ways in which you can tackle the biggest issues in your classroom.
Exercise. You may be thinking, are you kidding me?! That is the last thing I have time or energy for. But I PROMISE YOU, it will help. You don't have to become a marathon runner, even just walking 25 minutes a day will help with your energy level. I recommend weekly yoga or a workout class at your local gym.
Sleep. Are you getting enough? I know when I don't sleep, my day is pretty much shot. Everyone is different with how much sleep they can function on. Some need the full 8 hours while others can get away with 5-6. Figure out how much you need and make sure you allow yourself those hours.
I've always struggled with falling asleep (especially when stressed) so I know all the tips and tricks. I use essential oils and aromatherapy - I love lavender and Doterra's blend "Serenity". You can rub them on the back of your neck and wrists as well as on your feet. The smell is calming and it always lulls me into a deep sleep. Vertiver is another oil I use that has a very earthy smell. It is grounding and helps me STAY asleep.
Eating. Are you eating well? I love Minute Maid's slogan, "Put good in, get good out!" It's so true. If you eat garbage, guess what? You will feel like garbage. On my iPhone I listen to Shawn Stevenson's "The Model Health Show". He's dead on with what you should be eating. His views are a little extreme but when I even do half of what he says, I feel fantastic. Research and discover "clean eating". It will change your life.
I'm sure as your reading this, that parent is materializing in your mind. I've heard quite a few teachers say, "I wish teaching was just that - teaching. My job would be perfect if I didn't have to deal with the parents." Unfortunately this is something that has led to many wonderful teachers leaving the field. How can we change the relationship with our student's parents?
Here are strategies to handling difficult parents.
Let them know how much you care about their child. Does this parent know that you only want what's best for their child? Remind that parent how much you want their child to succeed in the classroom.
Make it personal. Parents want to know how you are helping THEIR child. How are you supporting their individual needs? Give them specific details on how you differentiate learning for their child.
Have support. If anything is suspicious or concerning, talk to your principal or school administrator. Also parents might come directly to you before checking in with the office. Always redirect them and keep administration informed about the situation.
Document Everything. For your peace of mind, make sure to record all interactions with that parent. If something does arise, this could save you your job.
Classroom management is something that first year teachers often struggle with. It takes trial and error as well as figuring out what works best with you and your students.That being said, a teacher who has been in the field for over twenty years can get that one group of kids that makes him/her question everything about teaching.
Here are strategies for handling behavior & classroom management.
Don’t let them see you sweat. If students are becoming out of your control, do not let them see they are getting you upset. You don’t want them to see that they have control of your emotions. Take a deep breath and try to think with your logical brain rather than your emotional one. Picture yourself an observer. You walk in the classroom and you see a flustered teacher with screaming students. What advice would you give him or her? What could they do in that moment to correct the situation? Do you have behavior management tools in the classroom? Utilize them.
Physical Activities. Physical movement is beneficial for so many reasons. Not only is it good for overall health but it can break up the strenuous mental tasks in the classroom. With YouTube, it makes it so easy to just put on an educational song and do a quick stretch or warm up!
Rewards and Incentives. What rewards and incentives does your class implement? What do your students get excited about and what would they work hard to earn? Do you use reward bucks, coupons, stickers, marble jar, or maybe a prize box? See what works for you in your classroom!