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Posted by on in General

I know it's hard...

Being a teacher is probably one of the most demanding jobs that exists in terms of the commitment, passion, and dedication that it requires. In some jobs, you put your time in, go home and relax, and forget about the challenges of the day, that customer that complained, that client who was unhappy, or possibly that project you're working on in the office.

Teaching is different. As a teacher, you invest so much in your students emotionally, financially, and professionally, that its hard to let go just because a bell rings at the end of the day. Whether its a student who told you about their troubled home life, didn't grasp a concept, or got embarrassedin front of their friends...those moments stick with you.

There is absolutely NOTHING that is going to change this aspect of our job. If you aren't invested in your students, you're probably doing it wrong.

However, if you are constantly focused on your job as an educator it can start to wear on you. It can even start to negatively impact your personal life, your relationships, and yes...as weird as it sounds...your performance as a teacher. Being too consumed by your job can actually hurt your ability to perform that job to the best of your ability.

If this sounds like you, don't worry! There are some things you can control to make it easier on yourself. Many teachers I talk with are always worried about planning, grading, that meeting they have the next day, or that observation they have coming up (which by the way you shouldn't stress out about...seriously)

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Posted by on in School Culture

magic

When people talk about childhood idols and heroes, I always say David Copperfield.  No, not the character from Dickens.  The other character:

davidcopperfield0608
image credit: vegas.com

If you don’t know of the man above, David Copperfield is an international illusionist who has performed all over the world.  He did a series of specials in the 80’s and 90’s on television and currently performs daily in Las Vegas.

David Copperfield wasn’t just simple magic. There was spectacle; there were music and lights; there was a story; there was the attractive girl; there was the impossible becoming possible in a few minutes.  Illusions were almost performed like MTV music videos.  I was obsessed.

My love for illusions and magic was instantaneous. There was a magic shop in town that I was stopping in every day after school to either learn a trick or save up lunch money (sorry Mom) and buy a new trick each week.  At one point, I had a duffle bag full of all sorts of tricks.

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Last modified on

Posted by on in Professional Development

art materials

One of the side effects of teaching is that we often give up our hobbies, our crafts, even our art for our job.  Our jobs are so overwhelming that we often sacrifice our music, our art thinking we don't have time for it, not with needing to make another parent phone call or write another lesson plan.

For those of us battling chronic illness or even disability, though, we need to make time for our crafts, our art.  An interesting study by Stuckey and Nobel in 2010 found that patients with chronic health problems do better if they create something, anything, especially visual art, music, dance, or creative writing.  In all reality, it helps all teachers, since the study found that, "despite methodological and other limitations, the studies included in our review appear to indicate that creative engagement can decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances" (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010).  For those of us living with pain or chronic health issues, creating music or poetry, painting or knitting, dancing or sewing can help us heal: "When people are invited to work with creative and artistic processes that affect more than their identity with illness, they are more able to 'create congruence between their affective states and their conceptual sense making.'104(p53) Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing" (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010).  Finding that "reservoir of healing" would be amazing for most of us.

So, how do we fix this?  Kate Harper interviewed Rice Freeman-Zachery, author of Creative Time and Space: Making Room for Making Art, and she came up with ten ways to make time for our creative processes.  In reality, many of these are tricks teachers already use to make time for our jobs at home, but we can also use these to fit in our music, our art, our writing.  I personally like #7, wearing what we need to feel like the artists we are.  We so often wear teaching clothes, even outside of the classroom, putting on that professional mask  It's okay to wear what we need to wear, put on what you need to write, create, sing, dance.  Do it to feel better, to be whole.

References

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Posted by on in School Culture

Lovely

There were only about fifteen minutes left in what had, up until this point, been a great day. Actually, considering it was the first day back from Winter Break, I would have to say it had been an amazing day! I was making rounds and trying to circulate through classrooms one last time before the day ended.

As I entered one kindergarten room a young girl approached me enter and scolded me for not giving her a hug this morning. I must have been called away because she and I always seek each other out. It was center time and students were spread out all around the room exploring and creating. She proceeded to ask me if I would like for her to read me a book.

In my head I was thinking, duh yeah...that would be freakin' awesome. Don't worry. I have the ability to filter. Instead, I told I would love for her to read me a book. She proceeded to walk me to their reading center. It was small, cozy and wonderful. I leaned back against a pillow and became her audience.

She began by asking me if I wanted to hold a stuffed animal while she read. I immediately said yes and chose a soft cuddly frog. Next, she reminded the class, the cuddly frog and I, that we read top-to-bottom and left-to-right. This was priceless! I couldn't believe I was getting paid for this.

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Last modified on

Posted by on in General

b2ap3_thumbnail_checklist.jpg

What's your restoration plan? I mean, despite the holidays and travel and grading and planning and presents and stress, how do you plan to be ready to return in January to school rested and restored and ready-to-rock?

Well, I have an assignment for you. I gave a similar one to my students, with only slightly different rationales.

1) Go for a walk outside.
The weather may be cold and wet, but exercise, fresh air, and natural light are good for you, preventing brooding. If you're like me, and work in the Northern Hemisphere, there's a good chance that you've been going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark only to balance grading, family, and holiday preparation. Your mental health and circadian rhythm will thank you for taking a walk outside in a natural setting. I've got such a kick out of walking in the morning this week -- in daylight nonetheless!

2) Express gratitude.
Sure, if you express gratitude to others, their day will be better, holiday spirit, yada yada. But expressing your gratitude by writing a heartfelt card, or calling someone to let them know why you appreciate them, will help you be more positive and happier. Positive and happy teachers are good for students.

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