Thursday, October 22, 2015

Be Very Afraid

Be extra kind to all the teachers you know over the next few weeks. The end of October brings something even scarier than Halloween. It's the dreaded END OF FIRST QUARTER.

We are afraid...very, very afraid.

Instead of carving pumpkins, we're carving out time to add 25 report cards to our list of things to do. Instead of trick-or-treaters, we hear parents knocking on our door for a conference. Instead of creating costumes, we're busy creating and entering first quarter data for our school ghouls, oops, I mean goals.

But unlike the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the overwhelmed feeling teachers experience at this time of year has been spotted by eye witnesses.  Look at this graph showing the phases of teacher attitudes throughout the year.

Teachers often set their sights on surviving September.  Then, October hits and we realize--ha, we were fooling ourselves--it is just as busy this month. New teachers often feel the phase of disillusionment the hardest.  They don't have the perspective of the whole year to help them remember, "This too shall pass."

Teachers, if you are feeling disillusioned, don't despair. You are not alone. Here are some tricks that have helped me ease the pain:

Focus on what you ARE getting done.  Self talk is very persuasive so if you tell yourself, "I'm overwhelmed and I don't have enough time," you will feel overwhelmed.  Instead, try saying to yourself, "I am having a productive day and making progress."  And if that doesn't work, look in a mirror like Stuart Smalley and say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me."

Plan some small breaks for yourself. Listen to your favorite song, go for a walk, just step outside your classroom and breathe deep breaths. It's OK to skip dinner prep and order a pizza...wait, that's every day in my house.

Don't try to do it all. Let your family know that this is crunch time. We give tax accountants a break in April, right? Teachers need a little TLC right now. Paul knows that he's on carpool duty this week.  He is also a very excellent pb & j maker.  Flowers and Starbucks are common gifts this time of year.  You can tell he is the experienced spouse of a teacher! When you talk with your fellow teachers, don't spiral down the black hole of complaining, but support each other.

Most of all, hang in there. Thanksgiving will come.  I promise.

Stuart Smalley's famous quote

More information about phases of teacher attitudes: