Teachers are constantly given more tasks and responsibilities daily. It can quickly become overwhelming and teachers are facing burnout much faster than in years past. Many teachers are leaving the profession because they feel their load has become too much to carry. We are constantly juggling student emotions, grades, test scores, state standards, meetings, co-worker emotions, our own families, and so much more! How do we have time to take care of ourselves, our families, and our students?? While I may not have all the answers, I do have some tips which have helped me to become a more effective teacher. These five qualities have helped me juggle all of the tasks thrown my way and lower my stress level. I hope they help you to do the same!
“Kids can’t learn from teachers they don’t like.”
– Rita Pierson
I feel that Rita said it best and to the point. If your students do not know that you care, they will not learn from you. How can you show them you care? It starts first thing every morning by greeting your students as they walk in the door. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as it is sincere and positive. Tell them you are happy to see them and ask them how their night went. You will be surprised at how much you can learn about a student from that one question.
Other ways to build student relationships:
- Lunch groups- Have different small groups of students eat with you once a week and just have conversations with them.
- Response Journals- Students can write to you daily or weekly about various topics. The way to build relationships is to write back to them.
- Circle Time- Have students circle up at the meeting place in your room. Students take turns sharing their highs and lows for the week, responding to a question, or just sharing a fact about themselves.
- Playing at recess with your students- I think this one gets overlooked as one of the easiest ways to build relationships. I know you are tired and wanting a break too, but students light up when their teacher takes time to play with them.
“A good system shortens the road to a goal.”
-Orison Swett Marden
One of my friends was speaking about her mom and said, “My mom was not a domestic goddess.” I cannot tell you how true of a sentence that is about me as well. While I may not be a domestic goddess, I know the importance of having organization in my classroom. Organization is not just keeping your classroom tidy or keeping your files in folders, it also has to do with procedures to keep your classroom running smoothly without much intervention from you, the teacher. For more tips on organization, check out my blog post on 15 Simple Classroom Organization Tips.
Fostering a Goal Setting and Growth Mindset Classroom
“There is a difference between not knowing, and not knowing yet.”
If you or your students do not know where you are going, there is no way you are going to get there. Having students create and track their own goals is one way I have improved student achievement. When a student sets their own goal they have more drive to achieve it. Students need goal setting to be modeled for them and they need to have opportunities to practice before they can become successful at it. One way I model goal setting is sharing some of my personal goals with my students and the steps I will take to achieve them. I tell them my deadline and how important it is to achieve the goal by that date. We have many discussions on realistic vs. unrealistic goals. This is one of the hardest concepts for students to understand.
You also need to foster a growth mindset in your classroom and be an example of growth mindset. Whether the student is a high achiever or low performer they need to have a growth mindset. They need to believe when they struggle it is okay and the struggle is what helps us to succeed later. I am constantly talking about the power of the word “yet” in my classroom. It is okay to not know something yet but it is not okay to give up. This statement has helped both my high performers and low performers in my classroom. We all have the ability to learn and grow. Some of my favorite videos on growth mindset are from Classroom Dojo. These are great introductory videos to the topic and there are follow up questions to go along with the videos. You can find some of my favorite read aloud books on growth mindset here.
Here are some resources I use with my students to practice goal setting and tracking their progress:
You can get more information on goal setting for teachers here.
“High performers are not born; they are conditioned by habits.”
One book suggestion for creating habits is High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. In this book he talks about the 6 key qualities of a high performer. In his chapter about productivity, he writes about the importance of habits. When we develop habits they become second nature, therefore, increasing our productivity by cutting out time wasted.
This is just like when you are wanting to lose weight or trying to stick to healthier eating habits. The experts say you need to meal plan in order stick to the new diet. In order to increase my productivity at school, I try to stick to a schedule. Each day I schedule what I will do before school, during conference, and after school. Here is an example of what my week looks like:
When it is already scheduled for you, there is no question of what you are to do that day. This cuts down on time deciding and then these tasks will become habits. Are there days when I don’t get everything done? Well of course! How many surprise meetings have you had? There are all kinds of meetings and paperwork which change my schedule for a day or week, but I stick to the schedule the best I can.
“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot pour from an empty vessel.”
This quote describes perfectly what I want to share with you. Teaching is a job where we are constantly giving and catering to others. Then we go home and give to our families. We must take time to take care of ourselves daily! There are so many different ways you can do this.
One simple way I do it, is by giving myself a bedtime. I need a certain amount of sleep in order to be the best version of me. Most nights my bedtime is a nonnegotiable.
Another way I take care of myself is by working out 4-5 times a week for 20-25 minutes. That’s all the time I have to spare, so I do what I can. Just that little bit of intense physical activity helps me to set the mood for the day. I have seen a huge improvement in my overall take on the world.
For some other tips on self-care, check out my post here on self care.
Teaching is my passion and finding ways to become more effective has really helped when it gets stressful. My suggestion is to pick one of these areas to improve in at a time. Rachel Hollis speaks often about how we can only improve in one area at a time. When we focus in on one area it simultaneously improves the other areas in our life. Let me know in the comments where you plan to start!
Teachers on the Block