As Promised… Some Pepto

Yesterday’s reading and my subsequent post were a little depressing, so I set out to find something a little more uplifting today. I’m sad to say this took me a little longer than I had hoped it would, but I did, indeed, find something to soothe my nausea (and stress).

On ACSD InService, Bryan Harris posted 10 tips for building teacher resiliency. Teachers need to have some resiliency in the face of a lot of nauseating policy and media attacks these days, and I like Bryan’s advice.

But what I like about this post is its far-reaching applicability to other aspects of my life, too — PhDing, and all that goes with it. I think these words apply to teachers across grade levels and disciplines, and hell, even across professions. The top ten ways to remain resilient?

  1. Maintain perspective. In challenging or stressful times, remind yourself that you are a difference maker.  In what other profession do you have the chance to daily impact a person’s entire life?
  2. Control your calendar. Create time for family, exercise, and fun activities. Actually place those times on your calendar and promise yourself that you’ll follow through on commitments to yourself.  If you find it difficult to leave school at a reasonable hour, place an alarm on your calendar or phone as a reminder to go home.
  3. Deal with conflict or difficult issues quickly and honestly. Remember what your dentist says –Rarely do problems get better by ignoring them.
  4. Take care of your body. Diet, exercise, and sleep are fundamental to dealing with stress and building resiliency. Don’t succumb to the lame excuse that you don’t have the time or money to be healthy. You need to take care of yourself so that you can be healthy enough to take care of other people.
  5. Find a professional passion. It can be a challenge to keep current on educational trends, research, and best practices. One of the best ways to stay current is to find and cultivate a professional passion. Find what you love most about teaching and learning and dive in and become an expert.
  6. Embrace change. In the last 10 years, our profession has had to embrace change like no other time in the past. Rightfully, our communities hold high expectations for us and our students deserve the very best. If you are teaching the same lessons, using the same materials, with the same strategies as you did 5 years ago, it may be time to shake things up.
  7. Laugh. Humor is one of the best ways to combat stress and it helps to place difficult or challenging situations into the proper perspective. Plus, a good laugh makes you feel better and makes you more pleasant to be around.
  8. Avoid complaining. This is true for #6 and complaining about students, parents, co-workers, policy, school leadership, or the profession in general. There is no such thing as a perfect school or a perfect organization. Work to make things better but remember, the grass is rarely greener on the other side.  Maybe re-read # 3, also.
  9. Develop a professional support network. Because this profession can be lonely, we need to find ways to support each other. Avoid the temptation to stay isolated in your classroom; seek out fellow educators for support and collaboration.
  10. Take a risk. Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone and try something new. After all, we ask kids to take a risk on a daily basis.  We ask them to learn something new, to try something they’ve never tried, and to be better than they were the day before. So be a model for your kids. If you fail, laugh and learn how to be better next time. If you succeed, celebrate.

I’m pretty good at 2, 4, 5, 9, and 10. Friends will tell you I struggle with being a risk-taker, but usually I’m willing to take risks with students, who never fail to surprise me with what they can do. I think I could stand to complain less, embrace change more, and maintain perspective… I think I’ll take these words with me today as I head in to campus, make copies for the first day of class tomorrow, attend what will be one of the last official “classes” I ever take in my life (weird), and spend time laughing with friends this evening. I invite you to do the same.