Thursday, November 25, 2010

Advice for New Teachers - Work/Life Balance

I often send our readers over to Teachers TV to check out their amazing short documentary style videos for educators and I'm about to do so once again.

This time I'm sending you there to watch a video about Wellbeing at Work - Coping with Excessive Workload.  I know teachers are starting to feel the stress of the pre-holiday season, where they wonder how on earth they'll get it all done in time.  All the planning, teaching, assessing, behaviour managing, IEP writing, teacher-parent conferences, report writing...and then the Christmas concerts disrupt all their plans and how on earth do they manage to get any of it done anyway?  What about their lives outside of school? 

I've given 5 workshops at UVic over the last 2 weeks to teachers about to graduate, and I noticed that I often end up giving out some free "life" advice while I teach resume & cover letter writing and what it's really like to teach in London, England.  

Here are a few bits & pieces of advice that I seem to give again & again to new teachers:
  • Remember who you are & give yourself the time to be you.  So, if you knit - knit! If you're sporty, do your sports (or at least the British equivalents!). If you love independent movies, find your indie-world in London.  Whatever makes you happy - you absolutely have to make that time for yourself.  Not just for your own sanity either.  Your teaching will be better if you take that time, plus you're that much more interesting to your students & colleagues.
  • Going to the pub with your colleagues is an important part of many school cultures in London.  So if you drink, you'll be happy to take a break from being at school to get thee to your "local"!  And if you don't drink, it's important that you still go and just have a soda because a whole lot of staff-team-bonding happens at the pub in London.  Not all schools, but many are this way.  Don't miss out - your colleagues are there to relate to you, laugh with you (and sometimes at you), and share in your joys & struggles.  Tap into that community by being active within it.
  • Open up your mind to all the amazing possibilities available to you.  You get 13 weeks of holidays spread throughout the school year - use them!  Go to Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Prague, Morocco...but don't get stressed about seeing every place on your travel bucket list.  Go with the flow, be open & flexible and have fun!
  • Seeing the silver lining will help you survive your first year teaching.  In my first year of teaching, my Aussie flatmate and I came up with a rule in our house - at the end of every teaching day, we could vent about 1 thing if we had to (and trust me, we did!) and 2 positives.  It stopped our negative venting stream of thinking and forced us to find the positives.  Now, I can see 100's more positives for every one single negative - but I had to train my brain to work that way.
 Any other tips you'd like to offer to new teachers?  Please share your thoughts below. 

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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Thanks for sharing your two pence!

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