Thursday, August 21, 2014

Teaching: It's a Marathon not a Sprint

It is around this time of year I have to remind myself- dude slow down.  The excitement of a new school year makes me want to pour all my energy and soul into my work.  I talk too loud, move too fast and stay on my feet all day.  I eat poorly and get dehydrated.  It is hard not to give 120% right now.

BUT, there are 177 more days left.

We need to pace ourselves to go the distance.  Every year I see new teachers going like sprinters early in the year and then losing their voices and getting incredibly sick.  By November they look haggard, emotionally drained and ready to cry.  In some areas, up to 50% or urban teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years.  I have beat this statistic because I know that teaching is a marathon, not a sprint.  In fact, it is a multi-year marathon. 

So here are some tips from a guy who has done this before:

  • Sit down whenever you can.  Take a moment to sit and talk to students, reflect or just be.  Even cheetahs spend most of the day laying down or sleeping.  
  • Eat good food and drink loads of water.  Make sure you take the time to sit down and eat.  Be sure you have good snacks to sustain you and bottles of water on hand.
  • Talk less.  When we talk too much and too loud our students stop listening and we lose our voices, figuratively and literally.  Use non-verbal gestures whenever you can.  
  • Slow down.  Walk slower, talk slower, move slower.  It will help regulate your nervous and circulatory systems to a more sustainable level of excitement. 
  • Breathe deep.  I actually put a poster on the wall accross from where I teach to remind me to do this.  It helps everything.  Do it.  Now.
  • Have fun.  Take time to just have fun with your students.  Be silly, sing a song, read a funny book.  Laughter can renew us (and our students).
  • Share the pain.  You don't need to be a hero.  Share how you are feeling with your co-workers.  They are feeling it too and it is good to know you are not alone.  

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