I am about three and a half weeks away from wrapping up my 2nd (and a half) school year! Recently, I had my exit interview at my district for California’s Induction Program and I got my credential cleared (yay!!). As I was preparing my slides to share at my exit interview, I had the opportunity to step back and reflect on the first few years of my teaching career. I don’t know it all, and have SO MUCH to learn, but I have definitely learned a lot so far.
Take care of yourself. This may come off as a no brainer, but I need to be loud and clear on this one. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be at your best for your students. In October of this school year, I burnt out. My first year of teaching was extraordinary and fast paced. The summer after had some sporadic presenting opportunities that kept me busy. This school year approached and I was still juggling my innovative ways of teaching and desire to learn more, in addition to being a facilitator of the professional community I had created. Looking back, I realized I didn’t have much of a break and completely hit a wall by the end of October. I cooled my jets, let some false pressure go, and stood true to my teacher heart to move forward.
Find a teacher buddy. Teaching is TOO HARD TO DO ALONE! You need a companion, a partner, a buddy, a mentor, someone who understands the teacher life and be there for you. I did not get through my burn out alone, but I didn’t tell anyone what was going on either. I honestly didn’t realize I was fried until later, when I started to feel less pressure on myself. It just so happened a teacher I had started to collaborate with became more of a friend. This was a bonus because we bonded over everything with education, but took the time to get to know each other and develop a friendship as well. Without really knowing, my teacher buddy caught me in the midst of my falling. Now that I have this person in my life, I know she will keep me in check with balancing my teacher world, professional development world, and personal world...just like I will reciprocate and do the same for her.
Find connections. Ideas, concepts, experiences...they can be interrelated and have connections, we just have to train our brain in finding those connections. In the classroom, we should strive to build and bridge connections for our students. We should tap into their schemas, take note of their interests and the community they live in, and look at previous learning and upcoming concepts/topics and BRIDGE that all together. They call that teacher magic, and that comes in time when you keep your mind open in thinking that way. :)
In the big picture for me, part of the reason why I burnt out was not only over doing it, but the way I was isolating my worlds (teaching, professional development, personal). I learned there should be a flow between my worlds. When there is a flow to what you are doing in your life, nothing feels “extra.” If each item on your “plate” supports the other items on your plate in some way, there is a sense of harmony and the things on your plate do not feel like “one more thing to do.”
Reflect, Redefine, Move Forward. Reflection is HUGE! Why are you doing what you are doing as an educator in your classroom? What is your vision to an idea that you have? How can that unit you did last year be enhanced this year? These are just some questions that are traced to the roots of our beings as educators. We are not tied down to teaching the same exact ways we did last year. When you take the time to reflect, you can redefine your visions and move forward with your passion and your students. (Reminder to our readers, Lisa blogged about 3 Tips to Support a Reflective Teaching Practice).
It feels like it has been longer than two and a half years of teaching. Time has gone by extremely fast, and I feel like it will only be going faster. My goal is to always stay just as reflective as I have been; I believe this will help me to stay true to my teacher heart. Every teacher will have their own takeaways each year after teaching and I thank you Lisa, and our readers, for taking the time to read some of mine.
A second year teacher,
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The opinions expressed in The New Teacher Chat: Advice, Tips, and Support are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.