Sunday, January 3, 2016

Taking Care of Me First

This current school year has me feeling absolutely burned out.  I feel like I've done a 180.  I spent my Thanksgiving and Winter breaks without even thinking about work (almost).  I was sick this fall, and was able to take a sick day without feeling any guilt what-so-ever.  Most people would say that these are good things.  Especially the people that know me in real life.

But I just don't feel the love I used to for teaching.  I feel my focus has shifted from teaching to all of the other nonsense that comes with being a teacher.  In other words, more of my thoughts and energy are being invested in all of the paperwork, communications, planning, etc. instead of on what is going on in my classroom when my students are there.  I seriously groan when the bell rings at the end of my preps because now I have to spend my time teaching instead of getting things done.  It used to be the opposite!  

I have done nothing for school over Winter break.  Truthfully, I needed the break.  On the other hand, I now feel that I have wasted time by not making progress in all of the things that I have to do.  Since I am dreading going back to work tomorrow, I wanted to take a moment to adjust my attitude, and reflect on what is going right.  

In regards to burn out, I keep hearing/reading about taking care of yourself first.  The repeated analogy is that when you fly, you're told to fix your oxygen mask before someone else's in the event of an emergency because if something happens to you, you won't be able to help anyone else.  The same principle can be applied to teachers.  We constantly give of ourselves, but when you don't take care of yourself, you will have nothing left to give.  
One thing I've been trying to do is spend time relaxing and doing the things that make me happy.  This has meant more time scrapbooking and crafting!  I've been using yoga to relax.  I had a hard time keeping up with it during the holidays, but I've been doing it more regularly over break.  (I just have to remember not to beat myself up if I miss a day or two.)  I plan on incorporating more strenuous exercise as well starting this week.  Ideally, I would like to get to the gym twice during the week, but when I don't get home until 5, and have to change clothes, and then drive 15 minutes to get there, and it's cold on top of it all, I know it's not very likely.  My solution is to do HIIT workouts at home, I just need to actually do it.  

I'm trying to become more mindful.  I've been reading a book called "Mindfulness for Teachers".  It's helped so much just from one chapter, but I started reading it in November, and I'm still on the second chapter because by the time I have time to read, I'm exhausted.  I need to make time to read.  One thing I'm doing to help me read more is learning how to speed read.  I installed an app called "Acceleread" on my iPad.  So far I'm enjoying it, but I don't know how well or if it's working yet.  I've only done three lessons so far.  (Be careful if you look this app up.  I did the first two free lessons, and then got suckered into buying the full version of the app because I felt I had to continue this program after investing so much time into it.  I really do like the app though.)

Another app I'm using to become more mindful is "Stop, Breathe & Think".  It's a meditation app.  You check in by explaining how you feel at that moment, and the app offers you a few meditations to choose from.  You listen to a guided meditation, and then you are rewarded with virtual stickers.  The app is free, but some of the mediations require a purchase.  The app is fair in offering both free and paid mediations.  I enjoy this app, and plan to use it daily.  (And by "daily", I mean I'm eventually going to end up skipping a day here and there.)

So for now the plan is to do these few small things, and hopefully turn things around for the rest of this year.  I may start some kind of gratitude journal.  I want to focus on one good teaching thing each day.  

Sorry for the rambly, less teacher-y post, but I feel better about returning to work tomorrow, and hopefully I can help someone else out that may be feeling the same way.

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