As teachers, sometimes we watch the clock just to get through the day. We hurry through lesson, volleying questions from students and thinking “just ten more minutes until lunch” or recess or the final bell.
Sometimes we count entire days or weeks away, too. How often do you pass another teacher in the hall and say, “at least it’s not Monday” or “thank goodness it’s Friday”? We organize our future-focus on the break room bulletin board with countdowns to Christmas Break or Spring Break or the end of the school year.
So many of us are so practiced at our dissatisfaction. Did you start out that way? Did you begin teaching wanting to hit fast-forward on your life? We all need to think again. Our lives are to be savored, not slipped through, not wished away with the moments and years pushed away from our awareness.
The joy of each day will return as you are present with your kids, with your planning, and with your colleagues. Bringing awareness back to yourself in your classroom can begin with three easy techniques.
1 – Look. Look 1 time around your classroom, intentionally noticing the colors and textures. See the variety of your bulletin boards, desks, supplies, and children’s clothes. Notice the flat brown surface of desks, the different textures of shirts. Where is the rainbow you’ve created with student work, decorations, and furniture?
2 – Listen. Listen to 2 sounds. Try to hear your children’s quiet whispers, laughter, and talking. Then try to find one additional sound behind that one. Maybe you can hear a train in the distance, or the traffic outside, or just the sound of silence. The sound between the notes makes the music.
3 – Breathe. Take 3 deep, slow breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale from your mouth, 3 times. Imagine that you are bringing in your positive awareness and pushing out your frustrations and tension and anything unpleasant.
This 1-2-3 strategy will bring you back to the present, and restore your ability to find joy in the moments of your day. Continue it daily and you’ll notice small incremental changes: smiling at your kids more in the morning, or anticipating planning for the next week as new ideas come to you. You will laugh at the joy in silliness.
If you want even more ways to renew your approach to your art, I can suggest “The Happy Teacher Habits” by Michael Linsin. Or you can always write to me about your specific challenge. None of us should just get through the day. Embrace the joy that is being teacher!