Teaching is a tough job. Anyone who doesn’t think so has probably never done it before. Many people think that teaching is easy because they sat in class as a student and they think this qualifies them to know what teaching is like. They don’t realize the effort and stress that actually go into doing it well.
My first year teaching was so tough that I decided to quit seven times during that school year. I even told the assistant principal that I quit one of those times. Luckily, he told me to go home over the weekend and think it over before making a final decision. I agreed, and I changed my mind. I was that close to leaving the profession before I even got started.
So, new teachers, I feel your pain. Here are a few tips to help you make it through your first year or two:
(1) Be healthy. Watch your eating habits, exercise, sleep, etc. Even walking for ten minutes before school can do wonders for relieving stress. I am not saying that you have to be perfect all the time, just be careful about eating too much comfort food every time you get stressed out. I know you may be young, but neglecting your health can literally make you sick if you aren’t careful.
(2) ALWAYS try to save one day per week to do nothing school related (obviously either Saturday or Sunday). I can’t stress this one enough. I am a big believer in staying mentally fresh and keeping your teaching life separate from your private life. I know that this may not be possible all the time, but trying to get one day per week free can help keep you from burning out.
(3) Teach with passion and energy consistently. Even if you don’t feel enthusiastic at times, your students deserve this. If you don’t feel very energetic on a certain day, so what. Fake it.
(4) Plan in detail one week at a time. Long term planning is overrated. Don’t worry about planning too specifically for the long-term. Make a general long-range outline and fill it in as you go. Planning one day at a time can also be stressful. You definitely don’t want to get caught having to wing it. One week at a time is the way to go.
(5) Don’t worry about making a mistake in front of your students. I used to stress a lot over this one. Even teachers make mistakes every now and then. Don’t be the teacher who freaks out or gets uncomfortable when it happens. Notice that I said “when” and not “if” there. Making mistakes is inevitable if you teach long enough. Be ready to keep your composure and don’t worry about it.
First-year teachers, what has been your biggest challenge so far? Veterans, what other advice would you share with new teachers?
Photo Credit: Michal Marcol via freedigitalphotos.net