Teaching is exhausting. Not only do you manage dozens of students throughout the week – all with different needs and learning levels – but you also spend hours planning, grading, and improving your classroom experience. Almost half of teachers work more than 50 hours per week, with only 12 percent working 35 hours or less. With that level of time commitment and pressure, it’s no surprise that you and your peers often feel burned out.
With all of the stress surrounding your career, take some time to yourself this week. Teacher Appreciation Week falls on the first week in May. Use the next few days to recharge, reflect, and reconnect with educators and family members. Here are a few ways to make the most of this week.
Enjoy Gifts and Discounts Around Town
Teacher Appreciation Week continues to grow and many businesses have adopted this holiday to run promotions. You may qualify for free meals, discounted items, and special opportunities around your area.
Check out FreebieFinder which lists free and discounted items alphabetically. RetailMeNot also published a guide for Teacher Appreciation Week freebies. Your local news outlets will also likely share unique opportunities for teachers. Make a list of the places you want to go to and the deals you want to take advantage of.
Once you have your list, invite some people along! Bring your fellow teachers out for a night at Applebee’s or grab your family for a dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. You can have fun while saving money.
Take Time for Yourself – This Week and Beyond
Self-care is a key part of burnout prevention and it takes many forms. For some people, self-care means learning to say no to extra tasks and no to volunteering for every event. For others, self-care is a time to turn off stressful thoughts and channel energies into more enjoyable activities. A few ways to practice self-care include:
- Turn off your phone at a certain point each day. Alternatively, put it on airplane mode whenever you are enjoying self-care activities.
- Put on music and dance around the room. Move your body and let yourself feel the lyrics and beat.
- Turn your bathroom into a mini-spa. Invest in facial cleansers, creams, scrubs, and masks that let you calm your skin and reward your body at the end of the day.
- Take a walk. This can be as simple as going around the school’s track. Look for hiking trails and parks to visit in your area.
- Stock your pantry or refrigerator with a favorite food item to enjoy each day. (You can also create a secret snack drawer at school.)
How can you make self-care a habit? Dedicate a period of time each day this week to self-care. All you need is 15 minutes in some cases. Commit to keeping this self-care time going through Teacher Appreciation Week and beyond. This won’t be easy, but dedicating time to yourself is an investment in your future mental health.
Image Credit: Health Matters
Eliminate Tasks You No Longer Need
One of the best ways to celebrate yourself is to value your time. If you can reduce the number of unnecessary tasks that you need to complete throughout the day, you can spend your working hours on more meaningful projects. Additionally, taking work off your plate can give you back your personal time, reducing your chances of burnout. Use Teacher Appreciation Week to identify busywork throughout your day and tasks that affect you and your team.
- Look for meetings that can be shortened or canceled – or meetings you personally no longer need to attend.
- Identify tools and resources to streamline your manual tasks. Can you improve your classroom processes to add digital grading? Can you set up a lesson plan system for faster creation?
- Create a process to identify the most important work for yourself each day. This way you won’t get caught up in small tasks while procrastinating on bigger projects.
It’s almost the end of the school year for most teachers. You might not be able to implement these changes now, but you can create goals for yourself to reclaim your time this fall.
Share Organization Tips With Other Teachers
While Teacher Appreciation Week is definitely a time for ice cream and celebrations, you can also use this period to get meaningful work done. Work with your peers to share times and advice to be more effective. There are multiple ways to do this:
- Ask your fellow educators to submit time-saving tips to a Google Form. You can share the results in an email at the end of the week.
- Create a team lunch-and-learn where you work with instructors within your grade and subject to identify ways to collaborate in the future.
- Pair up with other teachers throughout the week to discuss what processes work for you and which ones need to be improved.
Through these efforts, you can identify ways to make better lesson plans and save time on frustrating tasks. A few of your fellow teachers may discover new ways to be effective that they never thought of before.
Reflect on Why You Became a Teacher
Very few people enter the field of education because they are passionate about paperwork and thrive in an environment with budget cuts. By the end of the school year, you might feel exhausted by everything that is asked of you. Teacher Appreciation Week is a time to focus on your needs –- now and in the future.
Set aside some time to reflect on why you went into teaching. Are you connecting with students and inspiring a love of learning in them? Are you sharing your passion for reading, science, or math? If you get back to your roots, then every step you take moving forward can reflect your goals and your original vision.
This period of reflection could potentially lead to professional changes ahead of the next school year. It may be time to change schools or to focus on a specific grade level or learning style. Passion is contagious. If you are eager and interested in what you teach, your students are more likely to catch that interest as well.
Try Out eSpark This Teacher Appreciation Week
Whether you are looking to improve your classroom workflow or reconnect with students, try out eSpark. We create activities and quests that engage students and challenge them on individual levels. Advanced students can keep learning, while students who need a little more time can explore concepts in fresh ways. Our eSpark games are driven by students – when they don’t like a quest, we remove it.
Test out our activities and see if they are right for your classroom. Use our tools to enjoy easy grading, differentiated lessons, and excited students. Try eSpark for free today.