It's not uncommon for a teacher to be in high stress mode at the beginning of the academic year. The first week is a shock to the system after a long break, and then soon enough you forget that you even had a break at all. You may be weeding your way through the chaos of new classes, timetables, lesson plans, marking sets, and students. On top of that you may have even started a new position. There are not enough hours in the day for what a teacher does.
Cue non teacher exclamation: ‘Please, the school day finishes at 3!’ – OK, if that’s what you think, let’s switch jobs!!!
It’s easy to let school take over your life and it is more common than you think. If you’re questioning yourself about the last time you did something for yourself, chances are so is your colleague in the next classroom.
My Teacher Mentor once said to me, “If I’ve finished everything on my to do list, it probably means I shouldn’t be a Teacher anymore”. Think about it, your life as a Teacher during the school year is a constant in and out tray; planning, adapting, marking, parent interviews, meetings, duties, all on repeat! A Teacher’s job is not Dolly’s classic “9-5”, and when you leave to go home, you are probably taking something with you to finish.
So how do you stay on top of that and ensure that your life doesn’t become a stress bubble, or that you become a hermit? Here are some tried tips to help you get out of the classroom:
Don’t worry I’m not going to say that you must take up running (especially if that sounds like hell on earth), but I am going to shout out about the benefit of cardio. I run, I used to be a running freak. I often have that internal fight of whether to stay home, binge watch Netflix, or go outside and get my endorphins kicking. Whether it’s a walk at the end of the day, a yoga session, a class at the gym, or the classic run, you can muster all that frustration into something positive. I soon realised as a teacher that I ran faster after a big day because I had done a lot and needed a release. The app, Yoga Studio, even has a section of classes and poses dedicated to stress relief!
We all know we’re strapped for time to pick up and finish a book that’s not related to school. Technology nowadays makes is that much easier. Your journey to and from school can sometimes be a nightmare so, why not plug in, block out, and subscribe to something that leaves you hands free and engages you in something other than school work. The weekly charts on the iTunes store are a good way to get started, but a personal recommendation would be ‘Educating Josh’ and ‘My Dad Wrote A *****’.
You may be thinking right now, ‘So when is there time to be social?’
Well, it can start with school. Your colleagues are the most likeminded people you will meet in regards to your schedule and time management. They can also be the best fun when you need to let your hair down. Trust me, when teachers see a chance to be irresponsible away from work, they’ll take it. So, grab a group and head out one night – maybe a local pub quiz, group exercise – just something that doesn’t involve comparing notes on students.
There's plenty online to get your teeth into:
London City Runners: No, I’m not obsessed with it – I promise – but this amazing group is a free club where people of all abilities can join up: they do amazing evening running routes across the city.
Rabble: This is exercise with a difference. Rabble is a social sports club where in fact you play games. It’s idea is to disguise fitness as fun and games, getting back to your inner child. Activities include Dodgeball, British Bulldog (yes, it isn’t banned here) and ‘Zombie Hunt’.
Cooking Classes: If you’d rather eat during your down time, well fair enough – cooking classes are awesome for learning good skills, meeting new people, and getting a good feed that you probably wouldn’t always get in your own kitchen!
If you’re new to where you’re living, and haven’t had a chance to socialise and meet new people beyond the confines of work, technology, like most things, has a solution for that to. Meetup and Citysocializer are two fantastic websites/apps offering various activities as platforms to meet new people. Let’s face it, when you’re adult you know longer have Uni and School to help you out.
My final point here is more to ensure you find balance and remember the importance of eating. In my first year of a new teaching job, I always found myself too busy to take break. I would take bites of a sandwich while setting up for my next class. I would forfeit lunch break altogether, and then I would be too tired to prepare meals for the next day. It was an ongoing cycle, and soon I’d have no energy whatsoever left. I would end up eating junk and wasting money on it too. Your weekends are your sanctuaries, so use that time to bring those sanctuaries into your weekly schedule. Take some time on Sunday afternoon to organise and set yourself a meal plan. AND, on top of that, step away from the classroom at lunchtime. Focus just on taking a break and eating rather than last minute preparations.
I know that sometimes things can feel too busy to think about yourself, but remember the world will not end, it will carry on spinning while you take some time for yourself.
Written by Alex, aka 'Drabs'.