What would happen if…
I think the key message of this blogpost is to pose the question – what would happen if? I’ve received hundreds of messages from teachers who are struggling with teaching and very close to burn out. Many teachers have never ending to do lists, some have unsupportive work environments (staff and management), others have huge issues within their classrooms (both from a behaviour point and also external factors too.)
Teaching is not a job that you can leave at the door at 2.30pm – it can be all encompassing at times and difficult to escape from. It can be difficult to switch off and some days and weeks and months are harder than others.
It is key that we look after ourselves, our own mental health and wellbeing and maintain our friendships and relationships outside of school life (even during the times when school is taking over.)
I saw a post somewhere a few days ago which really gave me some perspective;
“If you were to die in the morning – you would be replaced before your months mind took place.”
Thats not to say that you wouldn’t be missed and that the school community, your colleagues and the children wouldn’t be devastated but I do think it’s a really important message to remember when you are putting everything else on hold for your job and continuing to go to work when you are really not well enough and constantly taking on too much and filling your evenings and weekends with school related business.
Who are you? Do you have relationships and friends, hobbies and things you enjoy doing outside of teaching? If you pour everything you have into teaching and your school and your class then when things in school aren’t going ok – it seems like everything is not ok.
It’s important not to lose contact with friends, to not give up on the sports and hobbies that you enjoy and to try as much as possible to maintain a work life balance.
Who are you doing it for?
The extra committees for subject areas, the extra curricular activities, the pinterest classroom, the perfect lesson plans and beautiful folders – who is it for? If ‘you’ are not one of the top reasons that you are doing these things then you need to stop! If these things don’t bring you joy/ enjoyment then stop. If you dread every after school activity session – why are you doing it? Keep going until mid-term and then finish up.
- My classroom is bright and colourful (which I love) – but this was a project I took on at the beginning of the year and it involves little to no work on a daily/ weekly basis.
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Changed back to groups this week as I have a student teacher starting in a few weeks and wanted to get the class used to groups again. The class (and I) prefer rows though but I know many colleges like to see the children working in groups instead so… #irishteacher #teachingplacement #irishprimaryteacher #iteachtoo
- I’m involved in a few Maths related projects in school this year but I’m really enjoying them and getting a lot out of them.
- My plans are 2 pages per fortnight – this is working perfectly for me – the plans are practical, usable and don’t take too much time. (I have to have plans – as a requirement for my job but I’m not spending hours wasting time copying and pasting material that will make the plans useless.)
- I’m involved in other committees in school – the ones I enjoy and feel I can help out with.
It’s perfectly acceptable to say no when you feel you can’t contribute to something or that you just simply have enough on or have no interest in it. Don’t feel guilty, don’t make up excuses (as you’ll likely get yourself in a muddle) just allow yourself to say no.
I completely understand some people reading this will think but I am on a maternity or temporary contract and therefore I have to be involved in everything so that I’ll be kept on next year – I’ve been there myself and I think its important to be involved in school life but that doesn’t mean you need to put yourself forward to do everything especially if these are things that don’t give you some enjoyment. (There is no guarantee that being involved in everything will get you the job the following year so if you are doing all these things with the sole focus of a job for the following year it is likely that you will be very disappointed and frustrated if things don’t go your way and you’ve given up your time without getting anything at all for yourself.)