Friday, December 5, 2008

How to Survive Your Worst Teaching Day

We've all had those days.

And if you haven't yet, be sure it's coming.

You've lost control of your class. Your students are going crazy in the classroom - fighting, throwing things, listening to not a single word you say. You feel like you've lost all authority.

What do you do?

It all comes down to attitude.

You can blame the school. You can blame the children. You can blame their "irresponsible parents". You can blame England, its educational policies, its backward class system. And you can even blame the Queen.

But none of your blaming will get you anywhere other than teacher burnout and possibly the end of your teaching career.


You could choose to take control of the one thing you do have control of: YOU.

You can tell yourself, "I can turn this around. I can get through this. I'm the one in charge. I am the grown-up here and this is my classroom." Then draw on everything you've learned in teachers college, in practicum, from other teachers, from this blog, the books you've read and your own common sense. And get control of yourself and your classroom.

You may not get through the lesson. You may not get through the objective. But you will get through the day and you will have earned your students' respect (maybe not much, but every bit makes a difference!)

It's all about T-Cup. Total Control Under Pressure. Make it your mantra. Your creed. You can't go wrong with T-Cup as your guide.

Then go home, have a bath, a glass of wine...whatever you do to relax. I went to the gym almost every day in my first year of teaching in a particularly challenging school. It was the only way I could get my frustrations out.

Sometimes you can vent to your other teacher friends. Use their support & words of advice. But to value your friendship and yourself, don't vent all the time!

My Australian flatmate & I had a rule in our home - for every negative statement we made about our day, we had to come up with 2 positives. At first, it was pretty tough. We both had our hands full, and needed to get all the negative thoughts out of our systems. But the positive thoughts helped us 100 times more.

One of my teachers writes the Canadian value of her daily rate on her hand. So, for example, if she earns 120 pounds/day, she would write $230 on her hand. She looks at her hand when she's having a particularly crummy moment in teaching. It calms her down, reminds her that she's doing great & earning good money. Then she thinks about going to Paris on the weekend. Or maybe this weekend she'll go to Barcelona? Or how about Brussels? Not a bad life after all!

Do you have any advice that you can offer teachers? Please help us by leaving your comment below.

Like this post? You might also like:
How Will You Get the Meanest, Nastiest, & Rudest Kid in the Class to Listen to You?
1o Myths About Teaching in London
Pros & Cons to Teaching in London
Rules, Rules & More Rules
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians

Check out this Teachers TV Video as well:

Teaching with Bailey - Class control Ecoutez! from Efl Classroom on Vimeo.


  1. It's true Victoria, everyone has those days--and it doesn't actually matter whether you are in a school with poor leadership and low levels of discipline or a great school that usually charges along.

    I've found the difference between tyro teacher and an experienced one is that they don't yet have the knowledge of the transience of school life.

    I'll be posting about classroom management skills on Teach'N'Traveller blog next week.

  2. I like your "tyro" teacher point - I had to go to your blog to read it & completely agree! I'm afraid I was that teacher in my first year. Ah well, we live & learn right? Thanks for commenting Alysha!


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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