It’s no secret that teaching is one of the most rewarding professions out there. It is a special bond that occurs in the classroom between teacher and pupil. We take our jobs seriously; that old saying “It’s not personal, it’s business” doesn’t apply to us. It is personal. After all, we pour our hearts and souls into these children. Our feelings run deep and that is why this job can be both a beautiful and moving experience as well as a negative and sometimes depressing one.
As teachers, we need to practice self care and make sure that we are doing things everyday to ensure that we are staying positive and not focusing on the negative. The following are just a few ways in which I keep myself positive in the day-to-day as well as during the more difficult times.
During my prep or after school, I often enjoy a nice cup of tea. The teas that I try to keep on hand in my classroom are “Good Earth” and “Yogi“. Aside from the fact that these teas are amazing, the reason why I like to keep these in my classroom is because each bag of tea comes with a great quote. I like to think of it like a daily fortune cookie that gives me something to ponder while I enjoy my tea. I have always enjoyed these teas for their delicious flavors, but now I have a whole new appreciation for them.
Much like my tea ‘tags’, I also keep this awesome quote display on my desk. I bought this at Target over the summer on a whim and have loved having it at my desk. It has enough cards in the box to have one for each day of the year. As of right now, I am just leaving quotes in there until I feel that I need something new to ponder. I often read them to my students and now they will sometimes ask me if I have changed the quote on my desk and they want to know what it says. (They also have the same curiosity about my tea tag quotes. Whenever they see me drinking tea the ask, “What does your tea say??”)
They say that laughter is the best medicine. I fully agree with whoever ‘they’ are—it is! This calendar was a gift and, boy, have I enjoyed it! If you are not familiar with the “Awkward Family Photos” book, you need to be. It’s amazing and something that we can all relate to in some way. This calendar is based off of the first book that was published and each day is a new nugget of awkwardness at which I can laugh. Whatever you humor is, be it kitten videos on YouTube, stand-up comedy, or awkward pictures of families, keep it close at hand for when you need a chuckle to get your mind off of things.
Most of the teachers that I know love to read; so, this one should not be too difficult for you. Find a feel-good book that you can turn to and read when you need a pick-me-up! I, personally, love to read “Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul“. I know, I know, it’s pretty cheesy… but it really IS good stuff! The stories are so sweet and heartwarming—it’s a great reminder of what teaching is all about. Plus, it’s basically a book of short narratives, so it’s easy to just pick up and read one story. Low commitment! Not much of a reader? Watch an inspirational film (any feel-good movie would do, but I think going with an educational themed one works great, like some of the movies I described in this post when I talked about getting ready for the school year.)
Lastly, save ALL of the thank you cards and letters that you get from students, parents, etc. Even though teachers tend to get labeled as pack-rats and many of us try to avoid that unflattering label… this is one item that I never throw away. It might seem like those papers take up too much space after a while, but it’s worth it when you need it. I started by making a little booklet of all of the thank you cards and letters, however that concept was quickly abandoned (too much time) and now they are haphazardly put in a folder (as you can see). However, when I need it, I can just pull a few random ones out onto my desk and relive those same wonderful feelings I had when I read them the first time around.
These are just a few of the ways in which I stay positive throughout the year. I hope that these can inspire you to take care of yourself. Remember: in order to take care of others, we must first take care of ourselves.
-The Ardent Teacher