I often hear teachers justifiably lamenting about how overwhelmed they can become with the amount of responsibilities and obligations that get heaped on them by The Powers That Be.
And I can certainly relate.
It seems like there’s always a new tech program to learn, student club to advise, or “duty free” lunch to cover.
Most recently, a teacher told me about how responsibilities increased when the number of faculty went down, so now less people were doing more of the things.
That can be crazymaking, for sure.
So how do we stay sane when we feel overwhelmed? How do we hang on to the peace, comfort, and serenity of calling ourselves a “Zen Teacher”?
I answered this teacher’s questions with the following list and thought you may also find the suggestions helpful:
- Say no (without guilt) when and where you can. You are doing plenty. You are not a “bad” teacher or a “bad” person if you say no.
- Meditate before during or after. Even a few deep breaths can make a huge difference.
- Pick areas of the job where you can detach from the outcome and not get so emotionally invested. Tell yourself I will care about THIS, but I will NOT care about the outcome of THAT. And then, as Elsa from Frozen says, Let it Go!
- If you HAVE to do the thing, find the JOY in it. There’s always something to rejoice in.
- Find the JOY in serving someone else (student, admin, whatever). Meditate on the PURPOSE of what you’re doing and find the motivation in THAT to keep going.
- Find a thing to focus on OUTSIDE of school (what I call your Zen Practice). That thing fulfills you, renews, and rejuvenates you). And then do it as often as possible.
- Accept (when you can).
- Focus on the IMPACT you are having on your students. It’s incalculable. You are affecting the future.
- Ignore perfectionism. It’s okay to be the “Good enough” teacher. For example, I have zero aspiration to be “Teacher of the Year”. In our district, than means interviews. Essays I have to write. Observations. Applications to fill out. What a pain in the arse. (Of course, easy to say as I have never been nominated, but still . .)
- Give yourself grace and forgiveness. Don’t beat yourself up. Change the internal monologue. Speak to yourself the way you would to a treasured loved one. Give your self intentional and radical self-care.
This is not an exhaustive list, but will hopefully give you some ideas and get you going.
As I told the teacher in question: Use what works, throw out the rest, but above all else, hang in there.
We need you.
You’re doing a great job.
And you’re enough.
Please don’t ever forget that last part. TZT