I love teaching! I love students. I love building relationships with students. I love seeing students excel in their passions and improve on things with which they struggle. Simply put, I love teaching! But let’s all be honest here; not every day, or even week, in the classroom is spectacular. There are some hours, days, or weeks that are just rough and try our patience as teachers. We all have those negative energy days.
Students talk back. Students forget the rules halfway through the year, or believe they fail to apply to them any longer. Students refuse to do work. Students argue that water is not wet. Students complain. Students are addicted to their phones. Students claim the earth is flat. Students cheat. Some of this has been my past few days. To be honest it would be very easy to internalize all of this and get very down as I explored the rabbit hole of self-blame. This is not the proper response however.
How should I, or any educator for that matter, respond to these times then? I am going to detail five ways I do this in this post and I encourage you to respond with your ways either through social media or by commenting below.
The first way I handle this is through my faith. Now I know not all educators are religious or share the same faith as I do but I do believe there are some things relatable here. Meditation can be both relaxing and allow for clarity. Especially when that time is followed up with some journaling or writing of some form that captures those moments of clarity. Done frequently enough those past journals can be used to help in new times of self-doubt or blame. So get away by yourself and spend a little time in prayer and meditation and perhaps even some journaling or blogging afterwards.
Family & Friends
I have three children. Currently the oldest is 6 and the youngest is 2. If I have had one of those energy-zapping days, it does not change their energy level or need for my attention when I get home. So sometimes, learning about Pokémon or Lego® Ninjago from my oldest son or Disney Princesses and My Little Ponies from my daughter, or watching Mickey Mouse with my youngest son is all I need to forget about anything negative from my day. They need their Daddy not Mr. Gragg. It is amazing how much the thoughts and emotions from the day can just instantly escape when they run and jump into my arms. If you have a family remember they need you as their spouse and parent when you get home, they have not dealt with your classroom issues and just need you.
When is the last time you read a book just for fun? As educators of students of any age, we should allbe encouraging students to read. Yet how often do we do this ourselves? I am not talking about reading a textbook or a book about pedagogy or your content area (personally, I never stop reading books in these genres). I am talking about a book you can get lost in and escape into another world while reading. The type of book you stay up all night to finish without even realizing you have been awake that late. This will be a different genre or type of book for almost each of us, but I bet there is something out that that grips your attention like this. Find it. Read it. It will be a good way to refresh your mental health.
I bet there is something you just love to do. Maybe it is golf. Maybe it is fishing. Maybe it is knitting or painting. Maybe it is board games. Maybe it is something you want to learn more about and get better at doing. For me this is photography. I love taking pictures. I also enjoy learning how to get better at this. I wish I had more time to devote to this. I think that is a good thing to. When you enjoy something, so much, you want for more time to do it then this is something, about which you are truly passionate. Those things that capture our passions can easily help us to put thing into perspective and to move forward from negative days.
I really did not know what to title this one. Some of us are runners. Some of us are not. I personally loathe running, yet I find it as a good outlet for frustrations and negative emotions. I have not been running recently because I have been successfully losing weight through healthier eating and wanted to drop to a certain weight before resuming a running program. So if you are a runner, go for a run. If you love to lift weights, go get your lift on. If you are into one of those crazy workout regimes like cross fit or something else go do that. Maybe that is not you. That is ok. Sometimes the healthiest and best way to recover from a trying day is just to get a good night’s sleep. So yes, it is ok for a teacher to go to bed at 8 or 7 or even 6. Sometimes we all just need that.
I am sure there are countless other ways you can overcome negative energy days. Please share yours in the comments or on social media.