Tips for teachers: staying sane
As a teacher, one literally never knows what will hit you. For me, the other day, it was a football.
After lunch if the weather permits we typically take students outside for a short recess. Out of nowhere, I was suddenly hit by a flying object - a football, from about 30 feet away, had hit me. Even as I tried to breathe through it and wait out the pain, tears sprang out of my eyes. Through gulps I radioed our dean to let him know I was going to the nurse. After 45 minutes of ice, rest and tea and 2 check-ups of my eyes, I left the nurse's office feeling okay albeit with a slight headache.
Teachers do not have it easy these days. The list of what we are faced with every day gets longer and longer: active shooter trainings, trauma, anxiety, attention to special needs, social emotional health, school refusal, grading, meetings, difficult family situations, work creep, working more than one job to make ends meet, planning, and so on.
So, what can we do to keep positive in this crazy job that we (most of the time) love? I thought I would share a few things that have been working for me.
1. Do something you love!
This weekend I was fortunate enough to spend time doing one of the things I love - dancing with a fabulous group of women who, like me, are educators. Our passion for Latin American folk dances has been a form of therapy for us. Today we gave our time for a fundraiser for a local group, Center for New Americans. The event was called "Immigrant Voices" and was replete with dance, song, poetry and more. Though exhausted, I felt exhilarated and grateful to be a part of this great event.
Dance is one of my outlets. Writing is another. Traveling, even day trips, can do wonders for my mental state.
What is your outlet? Find what makes you happy, and do more of it!
2.Face the day with a smile
That can be hard to do sometimes. But, when things are upsetting, or sad, or maddening - it helps to smile. Grumpy begets grumpy. Instead, smile at people. Ask them how they are, and mean it when you ask - and then listen to their answers. Put on a smile for your students. Your energy feeds into their energy; they pick up on how we feel right away. Other adults do, too. Sometimes if you keep smiling, your body and brain start to believe you are happy and they follow suit.
For me, it works to separate the different categories of my life. If things are more challenging at home, I set that aside while I am in school, and vice-versa. When your students are still in your head long after you have left school, get them out of your head! Focus on your outside of school life.
4. Stay positive
It's easy to fall into a cycle of whining, complaining, and feeling bitter. It can be harder to make a conscientious effort to stop that cycle. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Find happier people, or people who can help you problem solve. Vent if you need to, with some good friends - and then move past it.
And lastly, this one really works for me :-) ....
5. Take more naps
Sometimes I get home and flop on my bed. Even if it's for 15 minutes, even if I don't actually sleep. It helps to have my brain on "off" for a few minutes. I feel refreshed and can tackle the rest of the evening.
Hang in there! In Massachusetts, we are 5 days away from spring vacation. After that - you know how it goes: April is done, and May and June will fly by. We will end another year of teaching, say goodbye to our students, and take a break before we welcome new students. You can do it! Just don't get hit in the head with a football.
Poems for Parents
For this blog post, I decided to share some poems about parenting, as I am feeling reflective today on the one month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Feel free to add your thoughts or your own parenting poems in the comments!
Want to remember
Don’t want to forget
This age, this night
Loving their Mami
Without holding back
Showing me their love
I hug them tight
And ask them
“Will you always love me this much?”
And they both nod, solemnly
“I never want to grow up”, they say
Neither do I, I think.
a mother’s pain
a mother’s pain
knows no limits
it’s the pain you feel
when your sweet baby is so mad,
she gives you the silent treatment for hours on end.
it’s the sadness you feel
when your grown up girls go the movies
without you for the first time.
it’s the longing you feel when you think of
the days when they were little enough to
be scooped up in your arms, and nuzzled
it’s the bittersweet memories
of the sleepless nights, tired days.
it’s the wishing and hoping
for a better future, a happy life, free of pain.
it’s the panicky feeling
you feel each day
as the future pulls your babies further and further
away from you.
and it’s the devastating, crushing, soul-sucking pain
you feel for your comadre,
who has lost her daughter forever.
7/4/14, written for my friend MT
Closeness used to be there
But it’s gone
Where there was warmth,
There is space
Where there was affection
There is a gulf, an abyss
That little person
Who used to occupy every thought
Every blank space
And every corner of me
And my life
Thoughts and ideas and worries
All circling around you and me
We were a unit
Unbreakable, beautiful, elastic bond
Elastic now wearing thin
Tired from being stretched out
So many times
And broken again,
Gasping for air,
Deep gulps of icy fresh air