Students are testing boundaries, early assessment scores are in and the real work has begun. You’re doing your best to hold it all together. We don’t talk about it much, but October is a really tough month for teachers. The real work of teaching is moving into full swing and responsibilities are beginning to mount. We’re also realizing that the end of the year is really far away. The October slump has set in, but here are some ways you can beat it and thrive.
1. Give yourself a break
Seriously, literally and figuratively, give yourself a break. Stop being so hard on yourself by focusing on the things that just didn’t go as planned or the mess that is your desk right now. You rocked the start of school, your students are testing you right now, but that’s what they do. You are a great teacher!
Try to carve out some time to focus on yourself! It’s pretty much impossible to take a “mental health” day off during the school week, but you can carve out some time for rest and regrouping in other ways. Enjoy time with family and friends. Go for a walk or a run and enjoy the beauty of the leaves. Just let yourself sit and enjoy a book or do absolutely nothing. Catch up on fall premieres of your favorite shows that you taped because, well, September is crazy and you missed them all.
2. Play catch up
Let’s face it, you’re not going to let yourself enjoy anything if there is work screaming at you to finish. Go ahead, set aside some time to catch up on paper grading, answer emails, organize and prep for lessons. Go ahead and take a weekend, or work late a few days and get caught up.
3. Take care of your health
August and September were busy, busy months. No doubt, you were burning the candle at both ends. You are getting tired and, if you’re honest, you’re a little cranky too. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising and most importantly, getting enough rest. You won’t be the best teacher you can be when you’re running on caffeine and chocolate and no sleep every day. Your students deserve better and you do too. Get your rest!
4. Stay the course with classroom management
Now is a great time to review classroom expectations with students. Go over your classroom mission statement, revisit classroom procedures. Have a class meeting to get input from students about what is working and what might need a little “tweaking”. Students need consistency and they thrive on routine. Do your best to stick to the rules and keep your schedule as normal as possible.
5. Accept help
That’s right, I know you’ve had lots of people offer to help, but you think you should do it all yourself. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Take those parents who offered to help in your classroom up on their offer. Let them make copies, organize materials and other things that will free up your time for things that only you can do. Give your students jobs so that they have ownership and help keep the classroom running smoothly.
If you’re stuck or overwhelmed, reach out to a trusted coworker. Sometimes bouncing something off of someone can help you gain perspective and help you break out of a rut.
6. Focus on the positive
Sometimes we get so bogged down with the things that aren’t going right or all the stuff we have to do that we don’t take the time to see all the great things that are happening right in front of us. Don’t be so focused on delivering your lesson that you forget to notice the “lightbulb” moments for your students. Focus on the everyday moments in your classroom and not the high-stakes testing.
7. Remember your “why”
Above all, remember why you became a teacher. This is often one of the hardest things to do when you’re overwhelmed and juggling so many things, but remembering your “why” can help you refocus and regain your confidence to move forward in a positive way.
October is a tough month, but you’ve got what it takes to own the challenges ahead! Refocus, recharge and thrive.
Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.