September: the start of a new term, and a whole new school year. How are YOU feeling about it?
Teachers have a great deal of pressure on them at the start of the year. The first day with a new class is crucial, setting the tone for the year to come. This is not the first day of work: they've most likely just completed at least a couple of INSET days whilst trying to whip their classrooms into shape and do some last minute planning. The vast majority of teachers will have been into school during the summer holidays as well as working at home to get everything ready for the new term.
And that's the teachers who are stepping back into a classroom they're familiar with.
Add an extra load for those teachers who are taking on a new role, moving to a new school, managing an extra responsibility point or beginning a job share. And then double that for the NQTs.
If you're a teacher and you're feeling the pressure this September, have a look at my self care tips below. Most teachers are so busy coping with the demands of their job that they struggle to take good care of themselves. "I'll take time off at half term!" they say. But we all know you'll be catching up on marking, assessing and planning at half term. Right?!
So start taking care of yourself NOW. It doesn't have to be a burden, it doesn't have to add any extra pressure. But it might make all the difference to how you feel going into the new year.
5 Self Care Tips for Teachers
- Be in this moment - whether you're in class, or using your non-contact working time, or being non-teacher you, practice focussing your mind just on the present moment and what you're doing right now. You'll never do all the planning you "ought" to do, or give all the feedback at the optimum moment like you "should" - so let go of that, and just do what you're doing right in THIS moment.
- Be strict about your evenings - maybe you like to stay at school until your work is done, and then go home and switch off. Maybe you need to get home and be with your own kids, and you pick up the work again later. Whatever format your evening takes, be vigilant about ensuring it's not 100% work. You deserve to sit down and have a proper dinner, make your favourite brew or pour your favourite tipple and watch Netflix like the rest of us. Try to ensure that at the very least the hour before you go to bed is work-free.
- Take 5 minutes - perhaps 5 minutes doesn't sound like it's worth having for self care, but it can make all the difference when that's all you've got. The 5 minutes before your class comes back from assembly, the 5 minutes before lunch is over, the 5 minutes between marking one set of books and another - use it to care for yourself. Make a cuppa, go outside and take 5 deep breaths, listen to your big tune of the moment. It's a worthwhile departure from the go go go of teaching, and you'll return fresher.
- Tell yourself you're awesome - because you are, and teachers don't tell themselves this enough. You're looking after 30 children(or teenagers/young adults), taking responsibility not only for their learning but for their welfare. That's a dynamic feat, and you do that every single day. Hats off to you. Most of us could not do what you do.
- Connect with your colleagues - teaching can feel lonely. A lot of what you do isn't seen by anyone except the students. It's tempting to fantasise that colleagues are weaving magic in their classrooms, and that they all have much more time and expertise than you do. If you have courage to start those self care conversations in the staffroom you'll give others permission to talk about it, too: and when you connect with those like-minded colleagues you'll find you're in it together.
Wishing you lots of happiness and care this school year!