Why I took a step back… and what I learnt.

stress-teacher

Over the past few months things have been pretty full on for me, and as a result I found myself tired, more so than usual, low on energy and lacking motivation to do other things (such as this).

At the start of the year I started a new job; this followed a year which was possibly one of my most challenging work wise. I was propelled into a new role, new expectations, new opportunity. There is no denying I absolutely love my new role; however, it didn’t come without a cost.

Starting a new job is never easy; new people, new hours, new systems to learn, lots of things you used to know but now don’t – it all adds up to long days and working harder than your used too. Add on top of this trying to live up to the high expectations you have put on yourself (because that’s why they employed you right?), and soon you will find yourself in an unusual state.

After a few weeks of this, I was wrecked. Welcome tired and overwhelmed Amy – something I actually preach we teachers should try to avoid, and yet here I was, living as my exact target audience. I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I was trying to meet crazy high expectations. And truth be told, I still am.

My days quickly turned into predictable routines – wake at 5am, gym, work, home around 6pm, dinner, TV, bed. That was my day. I soon began to feel the impact of starting a new job and not allowing myself the time to just be. It was go, go, go, and crash.

So what changed? Well lucky I am a pretty aware person, and the signs were becoming stronger, so I had no choice but to listen. I knew where I was heading, and I didn’t want to end up there. I’d been there before… crying in my Dr’s office, asking for time off, explaining how I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wasn’t going to do that again.

So I stopped. Not from overwhelm. Not because I was tired. Not because I was doing too much. But by choice. I made a conscious choice to stop. To press pause. To just do what I could without feeling like I had made it to tipping point. I gave myself permission to take it slow.

For a whole week, I pressed pause. I took it slow. Did what I could. If that meant bed at 8pm I went to bed. If it meant no gym (this is a pretty high non-negotiable of mine) I didn’t go to the gym, if it meant soup for dinner and a night in front of the TV that’s what I did. And to add to that, I even took a day off work. To rest. To pause. To put me first. 100% guilt-free.

It was here, a day at home, pondering my thoughts where I realised through all of this I actually learnt something… The overwhelm, the being tired, the high expectations and pressure, it was my fault. All me. I owned it all. I still do. No one was expecting me to know everything. No one was expecting me to be amazing from day 1. No one was expecting me to go above and beyond. Only I was. I set the high expectations, I set the high standards, I set the multitude of tasks I wanted to achieve immediately. This means I too created the pressure. I created the overwhelm. I created being tired. And I too can change it. So I am.

I know realise it’s not about lowering expectations or expecting less, it’s about expecting what you can right now, expecting what is really achievable, expecting no more than you need to. No pressure required.

Somewhere along the way I lost what really makes me happy, what makes my days amazing, what makes my everyday amazing. I lost the being real, the giving value and the structure that helps me do so.

So that is what I am now working on again. The structure, the focus the giving.

Sick of spending your money on school supplies? Me too!

classroom-teacher

Seems crazy doesn’t it. We go to work to make money so we can spend it on work, really???

Only teachers will understand this. It is a teacher thing. I don’t think there is another job in the world where you could spend literally all your pay on your job.

I remember when I first started teaching, I was addicted to buying things which I thought would make my life easier. The pretty pencil pots, book bags, games, dice, counters, prizes for students, picture books for story time and resource books for lessons, cushions and a tent for the reading corner, stickers… the list is endless. It didn’t matter how much I purchased though, or how pretty my classroom was, it didn’t really change the big problems I was experiencing.

What people don’t realise when they walk into your classroom is that all those pretty things, they are all mostly purchased by the you, the teacher. Because if you don’t, who else will?

A few years into my career I realsied I was spending a small fortune on supplies for my class. In fact I was shocked at how much I actually spent. I couldn’t go anywhere without thinking and looking for school supplies. So I decided to stop. I made a deal with myself – no more spending my money on school supplies. No more spending my money on posters, pencil pots or stickers. If I don’t already have it, can’t get it for free, can’t make it with school supplies or recycled items or the school won’t buy it, it doesn’t happen.

In the last 7 years I doubt I have spent more than $100 on things for school. Despite this, my students have still made progress, learnt everything they need and had fun along the way.

How? Well teaching isn’t about the pretty classroom, matching pencil pots or what’s in the prize box and learning happens despite of the posters on the wall, cushions on the floor and stickers on a page. The best teaching and learning happens when teachers and students have positive relationships, when expectations are high and when everyone is happy.

If you didn’t see this on my FB page this week here is the link to check it out and share your thoughts… http://bit.ly/2wOKzQM

Keep reading for my top 3 ways to stop spending your own money:

Get it for FREE
There are so many ways to get things for free. Post in your school newsletter or FB page. Ask on the numerous buy,swap,sell pages on FB or ask local businesses. Even your students may have what you are after lying around at home. It never hurts to ask.

Recycle and Upcycle
Old jars can be used for pencil pots and the lids can be used as paint palettes. Almost anything can be used for an art activity. Still want that reading tent? An old sheet decorated by the students with a base made from old broomstick handles and cushions made form old t-shirts is just as good.

Get Creative
There are so many great ideas for making something out of nothing. You can make up heaps of games using old scrabble letters and instead of buying loads of stickers you can print out happygrams and hand these out instead.