Happy New Year!
I hope you all had a great year and are ready to start off a new term, excited for the adventures awaiting you.
The new year is often a time for resolutions and new starts but why should we wait for the new year to make a change? Especially if it’s something we are excited about. On the other hand, are we setting ourselves goals just because we feel like we have to? Are we just changing for the sake of change or is there a good reason?
I’m not against change. I love learning new things and taking on challenges but there is no point in always reinventing the wheel particularly if that wheel is running smoothly. Sometimes resolutions become ways to make yourself feel guilty for the year because you set yourself an overwhelming goal to reach and didn’t put support in place to help you achieve it.
If you are going to set yourself some resolutions this year, why not focus on your mental health? Work life balance is out of sorts for teachers and having a constant feeling of accountability can be positively draining.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”
This is not a selfish statement, it’s honest. Yes, a teacher’s role is to support pupils and their needs are important but if you are almost bedridden with exhaustion, how can you possibly meet those needs?
With that in mind, here are some resolutions I would recommend for a healthier, happier 2019.
- Organise work free evenings
Put down the books, log out of your emails, schedule in evenings just for you! How you spend this time is up to you. You might want to join a class, start a new hobby or just vegetate in front of the TV. In any case, switch off from work.
- Sometimes you need to say no
Of course, we want to do our best at work and help out as much as possible but there is a limit to what we can do. Sometimes, staff or parents may take advantage of your hard-working nature and this is when you need to be confident enough to say that they are asking too much. Additionally, don’t be afraid to delegate some jobs to your teaching assistant where appropriate. They are there to support you as well as the pupils.
- Ask for help
Something lots of us are guilty of not doing enough (myself included). Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but courage. If you approach others for help, they may ask you in turn. This creates a positive school culture where staff are supportive of one another.
- Praise yourself
Teachers are constantly under scrutiny. We are part of a highly criticised profession, which in turn can make us very self-critical. Be kind to yourself. Be proud of your strengths and achievements, you’ll feel better for it. Saying something simple to yourself such as, “I explained that really well today,” helps you see the good things that you ARE doing every day.
- Positive reflection
Each day write down 3 things (or more if you’re up for it) that made you happy. This eases stress and reminds you that even when times are tough there is still a reason to smile. They don’t have to be anything special just a reminder of the positive things in your life.
- It’s okay not to be okay
Stop beating yourself up over how you feel. It is perfectly okay not be to okay. I know I said to focus on positive things but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever feel miserable or that it can’t be a difficult thing to be happy. You are not alone.
- Get out of the house
Go for a walk, grab a coffee with a friend, mooch around the shops, whatever you like. Get out and about during term time so it’s not work-home, work-home, work-home… until half term.
- See friends and families outside of the school holidays
Adding to number 7 don’t save up all your social engagements for the holidays. Go out for dinner on a week night- you’ve got to eat anyway!
- Leave the books at school
Working in the evenings and at weekends should not be expected but unfortunately that is the reality for lots of teachers. My advice is to do as much in school as possible. If you need to mark books after school, avoid bringing them home. Complete as much as you can in school. It sounds like a great idea to mark from your sofa in your PJs with some background TV, but it will take you twice as long, and work will continue to prey on your mind when you are finished. It is far easier to separate your work and home life when you aren’t bringing it home with you.
Wishing you a happy, healthy 2019 from the ReallySchool team.