Quick Pick-Me-Ups When It’s Been a Hard Day at School
When You Remember Your Why, You Will Reclaim the Joy of Teaching
It’s been one of those terrible, horrible, awful, no-good days.
Get a grip.
Life is too short — and the school year is too long — to be miserable.
Are you willing to believe misery is optional and joy can be just one thought away?
Try one of these tips (or all of them, if it’s really been one of those days), and reclaim the joy of teaching.
1. Smile a genuine smile. Better yet, laugh out loud.
Who even understands how endorphins and smiles and laughter work together? Just smile and laugh, and the research says you’ll feel better. Think back over the day, and there’s surely something to smile about. If there’s really not anything today, what made you smile yesterday?
Teachers have written books full of wonderful stories of their hilarious experiences in the classroom. Buy the book. Dog-ear your favorites. Read them and enjoy! And don’t forget to laugh or at least smile and share the stories with your colleagues. (They probably need a laugh, too.)
Challenge your colleagues to a “Top That” contest. Who can tell the funniest story about something that happened at school? The winner is the one who makes the most people laugh so hard that they cry.
2. Say Thank You for Being a Pain in the Class.
Yep, say it. Be grateful. Say thank you for being a pain in the class.
There is always something for which to be grateful. What did you learn or remember from that person or thing that was a pain in the class? Say thank you, even if it’s along the line of “Thank you that X isn’t as bad all of the time as it is some of the time.”
Remember Rule #1.
Reflect on the good. Who are the people and what are the things for which you are grateful? Rapid-fire, list seven people and things for which you are grateful. If you find this difficult, know that for many people, it’s easier to list things you don’t like. It might be just as hard to quickly list seven different kinds of candy or seven different car models, because that’s the way the brain works. If you come up with seven items, add two more!
Here’s another game: When the only thing holding you together is your skin, play the Gratitude Run Amok Game. Instead of taking the usual negative idea associated with run amok, you are going to positively run amok expressing your gratitude for as many things or people as you can in one minute. Express gratitude for what you have, rather than grousing about what you don’t have.
3. Say a prayer.
There will be at least silent prayer in the classroom as long as there are days that test your resolve.
My favorite prayer for times such as these: Give me strength to endure my blessings.
The Serenity Prayer can help you discern appropriate behavior while your mind is overriding your body’s deep urge to scream, cry, yell profanity, or to sock in the nose of someone whom you think desperately deserves it. It’s also a good opportunity to remember that those people seemingly intent on destroying the tranquility of your day are all God’s beautiful children. Depending on how angry or frustrated you are, it’s hard to believe sometimes, but it’s true.
A prayer, a deep breath, and one minute can create a mental tune-up and help slash the time you spend being stressed, worried, or angry.
Say the Tranquility Prayer, and allow yourself to savor a noticeably better mood.
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
4. Go outside, or at least look out the door or window.
Fresh air can renew your mind and body. Let’s face it: There are days when the weather is so beautiful that it’s a shame that you and your students have to stay inside. For those times when you almost forget you’re the adult, go outside. There truly is another world outside your classroom. Planes overhead are filled with people going places. Cars are carrying people to shop, to visit friends, to appointments. Your windowless room is not the center of the universe; it’s only a small part of the world, and it is only as big as you allow it to be. A quick trip outside will remind you of that.
Breathe the fresh air. Look at nature. Smell the freshly-cut grass. Take in the beauty of the trees and flowers. Observe the clouds, the color of the sky. Take time to smell the roses.
Join the discussion in the comments section today. What do you do to make it through those terrible, horrible, awful, no-good days? What is your “Top That” story? Share your Gratitude Run Amok game. You know there are classroom teachers out there who are waiting for your story so that they can laugh so hard they cry.
Forward this message to someone who needs to Reclaim the Joy of Teaching!
~ The Teacher’s Mentor
~ Author, Best Selling Book: Reclaim the Joy of Teaching: The 7-Step Guide for Teachers Who Have Lost that Loving Feeling and Want to Fall in Love All Over Again with Teaching