Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Teacher Tip #8

Continued from "Things I wish someone had told me before I started teaching (or maybe they did and I just didn't listen)"

8. Sleep and balance are your friends. There's a period during your first year of teaching when you're in denial of the fact that you can't do everything. You'll be spending hours every day just trying to keep your head above water, and you won't even be able to think about getting ahead. Eventually, your work week will creep into your weekend as you bring work home with you. You will live, eat, and breathe work, and your friends and family will start to forget who you are when all of a sudden POW! Some supervirus from one of your germy students will knock your sleep-deprived, weakened immune system to its knees. You'll probably resist and suffer through the illness, teaching in your compromised state because it's an awful lot of work to prepare sub plans and you probably wouldn't trust a stranger to manage your classroom of darlings for a day while you recover anyway. Meanwhile, you'll just be getting more exhausted and sicker.

Don't do it. Trust me, it's not worth it.

Force yourself to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and occasionally give in to those urges to go to bed at 8:30pm (which you will sometimes have – every teacher I've ever met does). Allow yourself at least one day of your weekend to be free of all things school related – no planning, grading, or even thinking about school. It will be hard, especially when you're getting started, but there's no quicker path to getting burnt out or sick than letting school consume your whole life. You can't be as effective as you want to be if you're not taking care of yourself. Maintain a social life, get a hobby, and for goodness sake, take a sick day when you need it. You'll be far more productive during the times you are working if you give yourself those opportunities to recover.

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