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Friday, August 31, 2012

3 Ways to Give Yourself a Lift



My husband says teachers are paratroopers, we're sent
in and are surrounded. It is so true. Photo credit: BigStock
At 6pm I was completely and utterly oblivious to the world. Asleep. I woke up this morning at 4:30 am still tired. Yesterday I was trying to explain the difference between the business world and teaching to a friend and the best way I can explain it is this.

Teaching is like living at a conference. You're on the trade show talking to people every day for at least 5 hours - as well as teaching classes about how to do things.

But imagine this, during your lunch, the conventioneers often liked to hit, tease, and poke each other, so you have to eat quickly in a place where you can see them. Then, when you do get time to yourself, it is in an office where people come in and out borrowing tape, scissors, and asking questions. Finally, when the convention is over, two or three hours later, you will be alone only to have a random person come in and want to talk for an hour about whatever because they are tired.

I often miss the times at Cellular One when I could close my door and get something done.

Time Poor, Legacy Rich

Time poverty is a fact of life in teaching. It is what we live every day and it often takes its toll.

Teacher, I want you to hear me (and I"m also speaking to myself):

You can't pour water out of an empty pitcher.

I've been trying to get my feet under me since school started and am not quite there yet. Personally, I try to be careful when I blog and am over tired because it will often come out a tad on the negative side. I love teaching and love my students OR I WOULDN'T DO IT. Having quotas and managing a staff was much easier, as hard as that was. But I get the chance to make a difference in the lives of my precious students. I get to cry with parents and celebrate with kids who've done something cool. They come in my room dressed as squires and monks to show off their attire before heading into AP lit to present for Canterbury tales. I get to laugh (a lot) but also help them stay on track for where they need to go in their lives.

These children will scatter through the world like dandelion seeds in just a few years, but I will have been one of the few people who got to see them work together.

Teaching is a joy. I just want to tell those of you EXHAUSTED from the beginning of school that things will settle down. The drama will subside. The exhaustion will lessen. Take some time to rest over the long weekend (if you're in the US) and know that you can and will make it.

I'm doing a few things to help my mood and energy level that may help you:

1. Get a lift - http://lift.do/

There's a new LIFT app that focuses on habits. I've taken my most important habits and put them in there. You can find friends and give them props when they do certain things. This is a great way to encourage each other.
Write down 5 things you are thankful for once a week to experience
major improvements in  your life. The attitude of gratitude works.
Photo Credit: Bigstock

2. Start a gratitude journal

A study quoted in the New York Times last November has studied with me. People were asked to write one sentence about five things they were grateful for once a week.  The article says:

"The gratitude journal was brief — just one sentence for each of the five things — and done only once a week, but after two months there were significant effects. Compared with a control group, the people keeping the gratitude journal were more optimistic and felt happier. They reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out. 
Further benefits were observed in a study of polio survivors and other people with neuromuscular problems. The ones who kept a gratitude journal reported feeling happier and more optimistic than those in a control group, and these reports were corroborated by observations from their spouses. These grateful people also fell asleep more quickly at night, slept longer and woke up feeling more refreshed."

This is going in my "Lift" today!
Kindness makes life sweet. Bitterness repels.
Take time to be kind and you'll attract good things like honey.
PHoto credit: Big Stock

3. Make kindness a habit.

Try to find people who don't get told "thank you" enough and stop - look them in the eye- and give them a sincere "thank you." Give others credit. Grab a soda and put a sticky note on it while sliding it on the desk of someone who loves that particular drink.

Our PTO has asked each teacher to fill out a list of likes and has put the binder in the office and asked parents to come look at the book and be randomly kind to teachers if they want to give encouragement. The fact the book exists at all makes me feel appreciated and loved by our PTO.

What if you kept your own kindness binder and had kids put things they like in it? It might seem like a challenge but you could ask them to share with them the free things that you love it when a teacher does that make you feel important.

Life is sweeter served with honey.

In Conclusion

I'm writing this to you from the struggle. I'm not rested and happy in a quiet office all day but shouldering one of the heaviest work loads I've ever had in my 11 years of teaching. I live the struggle daily. My students are worth it.

You can get bitter or you can get better. Only two choices.

Fill your pitcher with laughter, rest, and time outdoors. I've often found that television is not as rejuvenating as a good book, a nap, or heading out to the farm for a ride through the woods.

You are a product of your habits. The things you do every day make you who you are today. You can start a new habit today - every habit has a day 1. Let's put habits in place unique to us as teachers to help replenish the empty pitchers and serve well. WE have a tough job, but we have a noble job.

I just want to tell you, teachers, that I am proud to be among you. You are the greatest profession and noble men and women in a society that doesn't appreciate you enough. It is time we appreciate one another and encourage one another and it starts with me.

If you feel you have nothing to say, it might just mean more coming from a teacher in the struggle than staying quiet because you don't feel so great. This blog post was written on one such  a day.

Have a great day, my friends. Be noble. Get rested. And WOW those kids. You're not here just to teacher, you're here to change their lives!


Note: All photos used via Big Stock license, you do not have permission to reuse these photos unless you secure your own license.
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