Do you remember that feeling at the end of your first year in the classroom? I felt elated that it was over, and I knew it didn’t quite work out the way I envisioned. I planned extensively over that first summer break, after a lengthy rest, and was ready to tackle my second year.
By the end of my second year, however, I was a little fried. So by the end of my fifth year, I fought tooth and nail to leave the classroom. From everyone else’s perspective, I was just happily accepting a position as an instructional coach. But I just wanted out: out of the classroom, out of (what I saw only as) the line of fire.
If only I knew what I know now! I could have prevented burnout from even that first year! So I want you to know what countless teachers have learned (and passed on to me) about avoiding burnout and keeping yourself happy in the classroom.
Here are 3 tried and true ways not to drown your second year. You’ll not only survive but thrive!
Take care of yourself. Enjoy your breaks—don’t use them to grade papers. Eat well. Scarfing down chips on your lunch break isn’t going to help. Food impacts mood. It’s that simple. Foods such as dark chocolate, protein, and veggies help you feel so much better than any bag of chips. Sleep! Your body needs it and so does your brain. Do things you love—don’t give up on life during the school year.
Become a Zen master. You really don’t need to become a master, you just need to master your patience. It doesn’t require hours of meditation every day to get good at changing your brain and growing your patience. All it takes is a few simple steps to shift your brain from left-focused to right-focused.
Try just being creative! Draw a picture, plan a lesson, or daydream. Shifting your brain from the left to the right side of your brain relieves your stress and enables you to be more patient and happy.
Get a mentor. Mentors abound within our educational system. From instructional coaches, peer mentors, or veteran teacher friends, mentors are just waiting for you. All you have to do is ask—frequently—for advice, lesson plan ideas, or moral support. A good mentor goes a long way toward keeping you sane and less stressed.
The bottom line is that you have to take some action to make sure you don’t become overwhelmed and overstressed in your second year in teaching.
Who doesn’t want more balance and less stress? Take care of yourself, teacher, so you can care for others. I know you can do it because you’re a teacher! You’re smart, brave, creative, resilient, and caring—there’s nothing in the world like you.