17 Life-Changing Tips for Teachers / by Tyson Pop

Dear Teachers,

You’re a unique breed.

I’ve seen the work you do during the week (and weekends) and it's impressive. Were you all warned that in order to be a good teacher, you also have to become an expert in behaviour management, admin, organization and be more patient than most people on the planet?

I know you love your job (and your holidays) but that doesn’t make it any easier for you to stay awake in the middle of a school day after a late night of marking. 

Here’s the thing though – as hard as you work and as impressive as it is, if you don’t cut yourself some time to refuel the tank you’re constantly emptying, it makes life (and teaching) pretty miserable.  

With that said, I wanted to share a few simple tips I’ve picked up from some of the best teachers from all around the world. Tips that if you apply, will not only help you stay awake during the school day but enrich every part of your life.

I know they’ll help.
 

  1. Select your top three

    Have you ever found yourself at the end of the school day feeling like you haven't done anything you really needed to do? Here’s a trick – Select the three most important tasks as you begin each day. Too often our ‘urgent tasks’ clutter your schedule and limits our ability to complete the essential tasks
     
  2. Say no

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. When you know what is essential, saying no to the excel is easier.
     
  3. Clear your desk

    Our physical space is symbolic of our mental space. Remove the 25 pens, 12 highlighters, and two staplers from your desk and enjoy the mental space it creates.
     
  4. Switch off phone notifications at work.

    Establish one time during your day that you get to catch up on everything screaming for your attention. Don’t make yourself feel busier than you are by constantly reaching for your phone each time there’s a gap in your schedule.
     
  5. Spend time alone

    Solitude can be uncomfortable initially. When we slow down, we can hear our inner anxieties and stress more clearly. Rather than ignoring these, listen to what they have to say.
     
  6. Establish routines

    Routines can provide us with a focused time to commit to specific actions. Check out a few routines from well-known figures throughout history to get you started.
     
  7. Minimize

    Life is easier to operate with less. This game will help you start. 
     
  8.  Find a place for everything.

    Have you ever been about to leave your house only to realize you can't find your keys, your wallet, and your phone? Have one place for everything, and save yourself the stress of trying to remember the last place you left it.
     
  9. Meditate.

    This practice will teach you not to let your emotions drive your decisions and ultimately save you a lot of unnecessary stress.
     
  10. Do Yoga

    Mental stress is associated with physical tension. Yoga is a way for us to focus on our breath and stretch our muscles, leaving us with a sense of flow in our bodies and minds.
     
  11. Lunch-Time Walks

    When done regularly, walking can be a form of meditation that relieves stress and boosts alertness. Get out of the classroom and be refreshed by the outside air.
     
  12. Stop multitasking

    Focus on one task at a time. Regardless how talented you are at taking on multiple tasks, you'll perform better when you focus on the one at hand.
     
  13. Do nothing

    Our business can be a form of laziness since it keeps us from focusing on what's most important. Sit still from time to time, not to read or meditate or paint or draw. Just to be. It's amazing how much appreciation you can muster when you just sit down and listen for a moment.
     
  14. Take a rest day

    Though it can be hard for our ego to accept, the world doesn't fall apart when we take a break. At the end of each week, switch off your phone and computer, close your diary, and enjoy some downtime. Refuel on a Sunday by leaving your work in your bag. Your body (and your family) will appreciate it.
     
  15. Eat natural food

    When we’re not healthy, every area of our life suffers. Prioritise eating food as close to its natural state as possible. I recommend the Sardinian diet.
     
  16. Take an annual retreat 

    Create time during the year to leave your day-to-day commitments behind and take a trip. It doesn't have to be expensive. Camping, a cheap cabin, or a retreat can all leave you feeling refreshed.
     
  17. At the end of the day...

    You may do all the above exceptionally well but ultimately keep your focus on what really matters. Students will remember how you made them feel beyond exactly what you taught, or whether your desk was tidy. Take time to smile, look out for the kid who needs to be asked how they are going. This little practice is what makes a truly effective teacher.