It’s my fourth year teaching and I’ll be teaching fourth grade, so I called it a golden year. I’m not sure if that’s a real thing, but I’m saying so.
At the beginning of every school year, I feel myself overflowing with excitement to love a new group of students, but also some anxiousness about the year that is ahead. There are so many things that could go wrong, but so many things that could go right. There are new families to meet, new parents to please, new growth to be made in students, and after you do all that, don’t forget all of the committee duties and that you actually might have a family at home and friendships that need you, too. I never want to say that other professions aren’t difficult, but I definitely feel like teaching is a nine month sprint with a few rest periods like in February. As a new school year approaches, I find myself setting some boundaries and some goals. I share this to be a voice for other teachers, to help them think through their own boundaries and goals, and to also encourage myself.
Last year I started a really sweet rhythm of doing laundry just one day a week. Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, right? But it filled me. I was no longer running around like a wicked woman because I knew that Friday night or Sunday was laundry day and that those piles could keep growing in my home so long as I knew I had my one day set aside to do laundry. This mindset helps me as a Type A personality and keeps me grounded on the important things.
Another good rhythm I leaned into as a teacher was taking a few minutes every day to write down some things I was grateful for. I cannot wait to start my gratitude journal this year at school. Whether you’re a teacher or working in another profession, taking a few minutes during the hustle of each day to be mindful can be so helpful. Also, studies have shown that shifting to gratitude helps us to plow over anxiousness.
Before you leave each day after school, get things ready for the next day. Try to have your piles laid out so that you can feel freedom to have slower mornings and not come into school filled with anxiety about getting ready for the day ahead. This took me three years to gain this rhythm, but I’m so thankful for it now. I also learned during my student teaching days to stay late on Thursdays to finish lesson planning so that you can leave on Friday right away if you choose. I’m still learning this rhythm, and still trying to figure this out for myself. It may not be this year, but I hope at some point in my life, to be able to curate a schedule with my husband that allows for this.
One way I made sure to connect with friends and family was to plan a “friend date” each week. Now, as a mom, that might be just once a month for you, but in my current family state, just a married woman, I had capacity to get with a friend once a week. I made sure to invest in friendships the best that I could during the school year. Sometimes that looks like me taking a few minutes of my lunch break to text three people to let them know I’m thinking of them. Staying connected to people who care about you and love you will help you to feel championed and supported to be the best you that you can be in your career.
My husband and I also have tried and failed and tried again to set up a rhythm of rest. We often times will choose a twelve to sixteen hour block of time that we maybe just stay home and try to take a break from work by doing things that are restful. This is definitely going to be my number one goal this year! In our faith, we believe in taking a Sabbath, but really stink at it. We believe the Lord rested so we should take his modeling and rest one day each week, as well. This year we’ll focus on the things we can do for fun on these days instead of the things we feel we shouldn’t do- like work, balancing checkbooks, cleaning, etc. Whatever your faith, know that taking time to refuel and recharge isn’t selfish- but is necessary.
The last rhythm I want to share could be viewed as selfish, but I think it’s okay to love on ourselves a bit. One day each week I make sure to stop for coffee before school (sometimes it’s more than one day..) because it’s something I enjoy and it’s a way I can tangibly gift myself something that says, “I care for myself and I see the work I’ve done. Delight yourself in this treat!”. I also make sure to check in with friends and family to ask that I’m staying the course and doing the things I love even in the busy hustle of the school year. For me that looks like working my side job, Noonday Collection, and sharing with women around the state about my love for women across the globe.
Teachers, it’s two more sleeps away for a big chunk of us before the hustle and bustle of the school year begins. I cannot explain to you the amount of thoughts and prayers I’ve had towards this year. The joy and excitement is so sweet, but the anxiousness and stress lingers closely behind. We have each other and we have people on our teams. Lets be teachers who reach out to one another and check on one another’s boundaries and goals.
Parents, we’re ready. We’re ready to love your kids. We’re ready to teach them and grow them and communicate well with you! We cannot wait to grow in relationship with you and your families! Please be gracious to us as we snap back into schedule.
Phew, I’d wanted to share these words for a while. They aren’t unheard of or completely different, but they’re a great way for us to have a few new ideas of ways to keep ourselves held accountable to during the school year, teachers.
Let’s do this thing!