Each year starts the same, the buildup of enthusiasm, excitement, and to-do lists that seem never ending. As the school year goes on enthusiasm and excitement dissipate. Replaced with stress, more to-do lists, and the focus of new education reforms that seem to “roll out” every other week.
You might have even felt like this before:
At times the facts seem to become a reality.
• As a profession, teaching is plagued by significant turnover, often attributed to burnout, with documented rates of teacher turnover rising in public schools over the past decade (Ingersoll, 2001; NCES, 2011)
• In particular, a sense of self-efficacy and connectedness with students and colleagues have been identified as important elements linked to teaching engagement and less emotional exhaustion and psychological distress (Klassen, Perry, & Frenzel, 2012; Tuettemann & Punch, 1992).
When asked, the standard _passer-by question, “How are you?” It is most often met with; good, okay, ehh, or even I’m here. If burnout, self-efficacy, and over all well-being are to be improved self-reflection and school dynamics are well over-due for an update.
The question becomes, how can the overload of emotional and physiological stress be managed? I started by figuring out how many days a week I could devote to “me” time. I felt comfortable with four days a week and at least 30 minutes channeling my energy towards something that was personally rewarding. I created a list of non-negotiable items that I would follow through with at least 4 days a week.
1. 30 minutes of “me” time. Either journal/running/getting outdoors
2. E-mail/Phone were saved until tomorrow after 10 PM
3. Set mini-goals for the month (1-3) Personal/Professional
4. Use an organization system: 15 item to-do list was broken into groups: 1). Must do today, 2). Can wait until tomorrow, and 3). Complete by Sunday.
5. Set aside 10-20 minutes communicating with my grade level “team” every morning.
(Time Management) <=== Click for more information
These non-negotiable constants helped me manage my school year more effectively. I was able to build strong collaborative relationships with my grade level team, get outside, and continue personal and professional development throughout the year. It had a dramatic effect on my classroom as well.
Our classroom non-negotiable items were a collaborative effort that reinforced daily expectations.
1. You can turn your day around. Always.
2. Daily check-ins: 3-5 minutes set aside to chat about our day: Morning, after lunch, and before packing up to go home.
3. You have the right to your own space. Communicate it!
4. We learn and succeed together.
Our daily expectations became a way for students to express needs, wants, and excitement about their day. They became a support to one another. It became the norm to hear words of encouragement all throughout the day and in the same instance words of support when one of them was having an off day. I came to realize how much they watched what I say and what I do when they were able to solve a situation on their own. It was while we set up breakfast in the morning and were just starting our morning routine. When one of the students came in late, not feeling well, and upset because their routine was out of order. While helping another student I watched, as one of my students greeted the other.
(SpED classroom k-1) 2013-14 school year:
- “Are you okay?”
- “We have pancakes today!”
- “Let me help. You can turn it around. It’s okay.”
- – Mumbles, but puts up backpack. Sits next to student and starts eating breakfast.
- “I like your shirt. Iron Man is awesome!”
- -Smiled. Thanked the other student and then turned to me: “Mrs. Kim I can turn it around!”
It became apparent that I was not only managing my stress but theirs as well. By creating non-negotiable expectations that were attainable and manageable,my students created a support system of their own.
Their system: _Respect Competence.
We could all benefit from more respect, communication, understanding, and engagement.
===> Resources used in this post.