We all have them. You know what I am talking about. Those habits that hold us back from being the best teacher that we can be. I mean, there is not a single one of us who is perfect, however we do a lot of getting in our own way too.
Teachers in particular are really bad about not helping ourselves out, so here is a list of 11 things that happy teachers DON'T do.
Take On Too Many Commitments
I mean seriously. As teachers we are asked to do just about everything. At one point in my career I was tutoring before school three days a week, doing a club one day after school, sponsored student counsel on another afternoon, was on both the technology and writing vertical teams that met after school, tutored outside of school, and all of this on top of teaching. Sound familiar?
I am sure to most it does, because as a group we are suckers and have a hard time saying no. Happy teachers do just that though. I am NOT saying don't get involved, but instead be a little picky about what you do. Only say yes to the commitments that you are truly passionate about.
I know it is tough, but you are not perfect. I am not either. When teaching it is hard to find the "good enough," but that is exactly what is necessary to be happy. Instead of perfection, strive for a goal.
In general, my goals were about completing all the "need to" tasks each day, and soon I was able to accomplish those and a few "would like to" tasks from time to time. By recognizing that enough is enough you can begin to enjoy your time in the classroom as well as not at school more.
I am not talking about your waist line here (although in my case I could be,) but instead growing your mind. One of the best things I ever did was choose to pursue more professional development in cooperative learning. I loved to learn more structures, and I loved sharing them with my students and coworkers too.
Happy teachers find something that they are passionate about and never stop learning.
Try To Do It All
I know, I already told you that you might just be miserable if you take on too many tasks, but here I am talking about your to do list specifically. Now this is assuming you have a to do list. You do right?
When I first started teaching I would absolutely refuse to leave until everything on my daily to do list was done. This is a masterclass is how to burn yourself out in no time flat. Seriously. You need to leave the school building. You need to have a life. Trust me, this is a need.
What I learned that worked well for me was to create a tiered to do list. The top had items that HAD to be done that day. In the middle were upcoming items and things it would be nice to get done, but not necessary. On the bottom of the list were the items that I would complete on days when I had to stay late for a family night, things went extraordinarily well, or I found a time machine.
This way I was able to feel success each day, which made me a happy camper.
Hate On Other Teachers
Just. Don't. Do. It. Teaching is hard enough, why in the world would we want to make it worse for one another? Be an uplifting force on your campus, not the reason that others avoid the teachers' lounge.
Happy teachers surround themselves with other happy people. Sometimes though, you have to fake it until you make it, and that's okay too.
Pretend To Have It All Together
Come on now, we aren't perfect. Not everything needs to be "Pinterest Worthy." Honestly I think that Pinterest can be dangerous to our mental health sometimes. We see so many seemingly perfect things, and can't help but feel inadequate. Honestly, nothing about my classroom was Pinterest worthy, but it was real.
Happy teachers know that you have to be real. When something is fantastic say so, but when you are struggling be honest with yourself and others too.
Think They Are The Best
Again, teachers need to band together for the betterment of all of us. This can't happen when you are judging others because you think you are better.
Happy teachers recognize their own strengths as well as the strengths of those around them and celebrate them all!
Rush Through Tasks
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Let's be honest, when you rush through something it probably isn't your best work.
This may mean rushing through a math unit because you are behind the scope and sequence, or rushing through writing the schedule on the board. Either way you are doing a disservice to yourself and your students. Now, this doesn't mean take way longer than necessary either.
Happy teachers are able to distinguish how long a task should take and make it work. They also know when something isn't up to par and are able to fix it.
You know the adage, you can't take care of others until you take care of yourself. So take the time to cook a good for you dinner with leftovers or work out or read a book.
Your health is paramount, and you can't be a happy teacher if you aren't happy yourself.
Okay, I know a little fear is healthy. What I am talking about here is that happy teachers aren't afraid to stick a toe in the water and try something new.
That something new might be a new app, a new restaurant, or a new location for a lesson. Happy teachers take a chance and continue to push themselves.
Get Stuck In A Rut
This one directly relates to the previous, don't be afraid to try something new, but even more specific. I know so many teachers that have taught the same thing, in the same way, year after year and they are miserable. Not all of them, but most of them.
Happy teachers try new ways of teaching their standards. When you have a lesson that rocks, there is no reason to mess with that. When you have a lesson that bombed, you definitely need to work on that. I would also encourage you to think about the lessons that landed, but weren't memorable too. My goal is to always have more and more lessons that rock each year.
Happy teachers are always striving for better. Better for their students and better for themselves. With this comes risk taking, and they don't always pay off, but when they do, it is pure gold.
So get out there! Be brave! Be happy!
Bonus: Don't Think About Their Future
So many times we are so busy surviving teaching that we don't give ourselves a chance to think about our own futures. Our students' futures, sure, but ours get the back burner treatment.
Stop it! Take some time to make a plan for your future. Maybe that means how you want to grow professionally. Maybe it means planning a killer vacation that will leave you refreshed and ready for more teaching when you come back.
For me, it means having a secure financial future, which always seems a tad bit unachievable to me. In this post, I talk about how I changed my mindset to think more about my financial future and stop living paycheck to paycheck.
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