Have you ever gone through your day at school thinking you were stuck in an awful sequel of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No- Good, Very Bad Day”? I had one yesterday.
I woke up with a nasty cold, got stuck in the worst kind of LA traffic, and had to run to the MPR for morning meeting. My usually respectful class just could not. stop. talking. One of my most sensitive students was having a rough morning and getting into lots of trouble on the playground, which of course carried over into the classroom. Two coworkers sent emails reminding me to respond to emails I had neglected (*cue self-deprecating thoughts about being the WORST COWORKER EVER*). A parent called with a concern that her student’s academic needs were not being met (um, ouch). By the end of the day, I had turned into one of the angry, burnt-out teachers from my nightmares. Here are some of the thoughts that were running through my head:
“Who allowed me to be responsible for all these kids? I can’t even keep up with my emails!”
“Why do they keep talking. Do they hate me? Am I a pushover? They weren’t like this yesterday. Were they? Oh. My. Gosh. Stop talkinggggggggg.”
“This mom needs to chill out. It is the fourth week of school. I have been teaching for four years, I know what I am doing.”
“Wait, do I know what I’m doing? Maybe he should have made more progress. Am I a bad teacher? Am I an awful person?”
And then... the worst question of them all...
“Why did I become a teacher, anyways?”
We all have these days. As I have been in the classroom longer, they become fewer and farther between. But they still hurt just as bad. Whenever these happen, I try my hardest to recover and come back the next day with a brand new attitude. Here are my fool-proof steps for recovering from a bad day :
Go chat with a co-worker you trust.
I dislike complaining in general, and especially at work. But I like to call this kind of complaining “constructive venting.” It helps so much to get it all out and get out of your head. Do it. I like talking to coworkers because, chances are, they have recently had a day just like yours and can identify with you/offer solutions. If you don’t have a coworker you feel comfortable talking to, call a close friend or family member.
Prepare for tomorrow, quickly.
You don’t want to leave school feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list and unprepared for the next day, buy you also want to GET OUT OF THERE and get the no-good, very bad day over with! Set a timer (30 minutes) and do what you need to do in your classroom to make sure you are prepared for the next day. If there was a major problem in your classroom that day, write it down and make an efficient plan to fix it. Then leave!
Make a few positive phone calls home.
Call a few parents to let them know about something great their student did that day. Parents always appreciate these calls, and it serves as a good reminder to you about why you became a teacher. Believe me! You will get all of your warm, fuzzy teacher feelings back.
Do something active.
Whether you want to put on your favorite music and sprint on the treadmill or take a leisurely walk to get frozen yogurt, get your heart pumping for a few minutes.
Do one thing that helps YOU unwind.
Whether this is eating dinner with your family, getting a glass of wine with a friend, or curling up in bed and watching Netflix alone, carve out some time for yourself.
Go to bed early.
And don’t have classroom dreams. Okay.. try not to have classroom dreams :) If you can’t sleep, write down everything that is bothering you and try again.
Tomorrow is a new day. Your attitude determines your students’ attitudes. So take some time to recover and make yourself happy, so that you’re ready to be the rockstar teacher that you are tomorrow!
How do you unwind from a not-so-great day in the classroom?