Education Opinion

Seeking and Keeping Balance as a New Teacher

By Lisa Dabbs — January 19, 2018 4 min read
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Happy New Year Everyone! I (Christine) have been back in school from winter break for about a week and a half. This was actually the first break (since maybe high school?) that I was able to just “chill.” In the past, I would spend my time off of school either working a retail job or on projects towards professional development—a girl on a mission to get something done, to say the least. I didn’t let the pressure of things on my to-do list take over. I felt as though I acquired a good energy during the break, and can only hope to sustain it as the school year continues.

The first week was not as intense as I thought it would be; I was able to ease back into the school with my students. Looking forward, I try not to grow overwhelmed with what lies ahead of me at school: the oral assessment window with my kindergartners, trainings (and the sub plans that come with missing school), student-led conferences, evidence collection for Induction (a requirement by the state of California so I can get my teaching credential cleared), and not to mention the day by day hustle that comes with being in the classroom. I step back and remind myself that I can only take one day at a time. I recognize what is required to get done and pace myself by planning a week ahead of time and prioritizing the order in which the tasks need to get done.

My biggest goal through the super busy times at school is to still enjoy each school day with the kids. I enjoy planning meaningful learning opportunities for my kids and don’t want to feel like that has to come second to other school obligations.

Lisa, what advice do you have for me to stay balanced as the pace of the school year begins to pick up speed?

Congratulations Christine! I (Lisa) am so glad to hear that you’re off to a fantastic start! You’ve accomplished quite a bit since the start of the school year. You’ve set up your classroom, prepared lesson plans, gotten to know your students, conferenced with their parents and probably even produced your first set of report cards. Whew! Not easy tasks by any means! So your question of staying balanced is a real challenge. It’s not easy, but in the spirit of the new year, there are three things I want to share with you with some insights to seeking balance as you enter 2018. Let’s take a look at these three keywords:

1. Patience: “quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence; to work with patience.” ~ Dictionary.com

We know teaching takes an incredible amount of patience; not only that which you show your students, their families, and your colleagues, but most importantly patience with yourself. So going forward, remember to be kind to yourself as you reflect on where you were, where you’re going and where you want to be. Give yourself time to really get a sense of what you worked hard to accomplish and what you still want to work on. Be patient with yourself as you plan and prepare for the days, weeks, and months ahead. Remember that as we look for balance, we’ve got to be patient with ourselves and at times it requires waiting for the thing we’re hoping for. In the meantime, how about looking into the practice of a short daily meditation?

2. Persistence: “the continuance of an effect after its cause is removed.” ~ Dictionary.com

Do you have a vision for the future of your work as you seek balance? Are you willing to strive to make it a reality? Will you stay persistent in this goal? Christine, I’m sure that the answer to all three of these questions is a resounding... YES! Persistence in the face of restless students, anxious parents, and the pressures of the school day is what it takes to be a servant leader. And along with serving and leading, teachers need to consistently seek to find balance in their work lives! As you roll up your sleeves every day, search out your lesson plans, and get down to the business of delivering instruction, persistence will keep you going despite the proverbial misstep that’s bound to happen in your daily work. Staying persistent in keeping balance and not giving up when things go “sideways” will support you to feel and be your best for yourself and your students.

3. Play: “exercise or activity for amusement or recreation.” ~ Dictionary.com

Keeping balance requires that we take time to play! Christine, as a new teacher, you may not get out and play as often as you should. I know you’re a BIG fan of play for your students but what about time for yourself? Do you take time to play and really let loose? Taking time to play can support you to have a powerful sense of freedom. Do you have a hobby that supports you to play? How can you work to experience that at least once a week? Can you schedule a play-time commitment with a buddy? Maybe take a yoga class, photography class, or try out an online cooking class. These kinds of activities will help to give you the balance you’re looking for and won’t cost you tons of money to enjoy them. Don’t hesitate to make play a habit. Years from now, you’ll be glad you did!

Seeking and making time for balance in your work life won’t be easy. Give yourself permission to explore ways that feel right for you. You’ll find that it’ll make for more positive daily interactions and carry you through the best and worst days of your career.

Friends, how do you find balance in your work life? Christine and I would love to know your thoughts. In the meantime, here’s to staying patient, persistent and playful as you start your work in 2018!


Photo By Leio McLaren on Unsplash

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.

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