I still can’t believe I’ve been out of the classroom for half a year. I say half a year because it’s actually really been that long. Since going on March Break, I have not been back to my school building since. In the last 6 months, I navigated and transitioned to online learning with preschoolers and then went straight into summer break. This has been an interesting year to say the least and I’m surprised at how quickly it has flown by, despite everything that has happened. I can’t help but say that I’m excited, (but mostly nervous) to go back to work, considering it’s been such an uncertain and scary time. That being said, I decided to put together a few tips for teachers who, like myself, will be heading back to the classroom (or maybe teaching online), very soon. Writing this and sharing these resources has given me some confidence, optimism and peace of mind about however this 2020-21 school year is meant to unfold, and my hope is that after reading this you will feel the same too.
Find Your Calm – Explore Self-Reg and you will come to learn about Lending Your Calm. (I’m in the process of taking a second course with them.) However, I believe that in order for teachers (or anyone) to be able to lend their calm to their students and parents during this time, they first need to be able to find it. Stop and think to yourself, what exactly does calm feel like for me? What are some things that help me to feel calm? For me, it’s doing yoga, listening to music, working out, reading a book, and other times it’s meditating or taking a few deep breaths. Through these practices and activities, I’ve learned what calm feels like. When I’m not feeling it, I know exactly what helps me to get to that state. These past few months have been stressful on us all. This is why it’s so important to practice self-care and find what brings you calm so that you can bring that with you (as best as you can!) each day to work. We’ll surely need it!
- We Can’t Pour From an Empty Vessel – Kristin Wiens
- Self-Care is Not Selfish
- Self-Care Begins With You
- Teachers on Practicing Self-Care
Lend Your Calm – Once you discover what brings you calm and what that feels like, create that in your classroom environment. Calm begets calm. Our body is an energy source, allowing us to feel the vibrations from others. This is also known as limbic resonance or emotional contagion. Children are also able to feel and feed off of the energy from the adults in their lives and from their peers. For example, have you ever noticed how sometimes it only takes one student to change the energy of the entire class? When you feel calm, you can create that same feeling in your students, simply by just feeling it yourself. The beginning of the school year is naturally always stressful for teachers, parents and students. Apart from being calm yourself, think about the many ways you can create a calm and inviting classroom, overall school environment, or virtual learning experience. Whether it’s having less things mounted on the walls, playing calming music, integrating mindfulness-based activities (by engaging your student’s senses), or simply asking your student’s how they’re doing and feeling; when kids are not stressed and feel a sense of safety and calm, they are ready and able to learn at their best.
- Dr. Jean Clinton – Educators Lend Your Calm
- 10 Self-Reg Reframes to Bring Safety and Calm to the Kids in Your Care
- School Mental Health Ontario Educator Resources
- Understanding Trauma, Learning & the Brain with Dr. Jean Clinton
Practice Consistency – The beginning of this school year will certainly be like no other. With new policies, guidelines and routines put into place, I imagine it will feel very different and new for us. If you’re physically back at school, it may take time to remember all the new rules and best practices such as washing or sanitizing your hands before and after removing your mask, but with consistency, you will naturally build up the habit of doing so. I’ve already started doing this when I go out so that it won’t all feel entirely new when I go back to work. It’s also important to build these practices with your students. It’ll all be new for them too and it’s much easier to build a routine and habit at the very start of a school year rather than later or halfway through it. Keep in mind that these procedures are in place to ensure the health, safety and well-being of both the school and external community. If you’re unsure about something regarding any of the new changes, don’t hesitate to ask and find out the right answers.
Stay Connected – Whether it’s with your family, friends or colleagues, stay connected with the people in your life. Maybe it’s catching up with a friend over the phone or sending an email to a fellow colleague to see how they’re doing. At the end of the day, we are social beings with a desire to connect, and simply having a chat with someone important in your life may be all it takes to turn your own or someone else’s day around. Lean on your support system when needed and make opportunities for connection with others a part of your daily routine. You’ll truly notice the difference it makes in your attitude, the way you feel, the way you go about each day, and it’s also a great way to boost your immune system!
Take It Slow – Regardless if you’ve been teaching for 20 years or are a new teacher starting your first year, this school year will be new for all of us. New students, families, routines, schedules, procedures, guidelines, expectations, and much more. If you’re finding that you’re already beginning to feel overwhelmed, go back to Finding Your Calm. Notice what you’re feeling and find what feels good and what brings you a sense of calm. One thing I always practice is mindfulness and living in the present moment. I can’t worry and be anxious about the first day of school because I don’t know what to expect. I’m only in control of the here and now so that’s what I choose to focus on. As each day comes and goes, take it slow, ask the questions you need answers to, build relationships and connections, and most importantly, be kind and do your best. And remember, you are the expert in pedagogy and curriculum. Be confident in your abilities, strengths and everything you already know. We got this!
Got more tips for teachers going back to school? Share them in the comments below!
This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.
2 thoughts on “Tips for Teachers Going Back to Work”
Thank you for this uplifting article to get us educators back into the groove. It’s so important to not only prepare for the school year, but to also prepare ourselves. Being clear-minded and stress-free is the key to success in regards to getting our students back to school and into the new norm.
Thank you! Wishing you a successful beginning of school year with your students 🙂