Now that Spring break is approaching for some and already here for others, daily classroom structure is changing. Although the majority of the school year is over, we are entering the most stressful time of the year…Testing season. I didn’t say flu season, I said testing season!
Yes, testing is a season because that’s how long it feels like it lasts. During this time of year teachers are expected to review test prep materials, samples and previous data collected from students. We are asked to teach to the test in order to assure that our students have been exposed to specific skills. It is vital in hopes that the school’s scores increase from the previous year and that our jobs are secured for the next year.
If we don’t take proper care of ourselves then we could end up stressed out and ready to quit our jobs! We don’t want to do that; instead, do something about it and manage the way you are feeling. Below are some tips for the teachers out there that want to beat the testing blues:
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is essential for the body to function properly- especially when you are stressed and overloaded with work. Develop a new sleeping schedule by going to bed a little earlier each night. Begin by getting in the bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier than usual and wake up at the same time. Set an alarm 30 minutes before bedtime each night to remind yourself that it is time to wind down.
Observe the way you feel the next day with the extra sleep. If you don’t see a difference yet, do it for a week and write down your mood each day. You’ll begin to discover that the little amount of sleep is making a difference in the way you are feeling. At this point you might want to increase it 30 minutes to an hour earlier. Do what is feasible for you and your needs. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, but some type of change in the sleep schedule can benefit you during this time of year.
Take breaks throughout the day
In the classroom you might find yourself on overload and running all day long. A teacher never has time to sit down when the students are in the room and when they leave we keep moving like they are still there. This is not healthy to the body or mind. It’s imperative that you take breaks throughout the day to refocus your thoughts. If you have trouble remembering to do this then set yourself reminders throughout the day. You will begin to notice the difference in your mood. Pausing to take a breath and be still is the best way to stay grounded.
Create a routine
Having a routine in the classroom is a given when it comes to structure and building autonomy within our students. All day long our students are following classroom routines and procedures. They are given these tools at the beginning of the year, so they can set themselves up for success throughout the year. So, why don’t we do that for ourselves? Too often teachers leave the classroom and go home to an unstructured night or morning. Creating a routine for yourself can set you up for success. I’m not suggesting you block off all the minutes and hours in the day. What I’m saying is you must build a routine that is focused on the things that will de-stress you and make you happy.
Do one small thing
Our days are filled with doing for others all day long. We often forget to do for ourselves. Much of our energy during testing season is used to supporting students who are struggling, creating lessons that will take our classes to the next level and meeting with administration. With all the demands happening you could potentially find your energy zapped by the end of the day. We must remember to take care of ourselves first. You may not have time to do a full self-care day every night. Instead, you can do one small thing that will make you happy, i.e., one small thing you look forward to each night when you come home from the classroom. For example, if you love to read then find time each day to do that for 15 minutes. If you like long hot baths, create space to invite that time into your life. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just one small thing that can make a difference.
Try some of these tips to beat the blues, you will find that the way you are feeling will begin to change. Remember, we cannot be at our best unless we take care of ourselves first.
What are some things you like to give extra attention to during testing season? Let us know if you tried any of the tips on this list. We would love to hear from you!