Overwhelmed? Let's Fix that!
If your experience with teaching is anything like mine, you may often feel like your job is just never done. There is always something more to do: more planning, analyzing, creating, grading, thinking of ways to get to that one student, etc, etc, etc.
Your job as an educator is an important one, and there are numerous tasks to be completed. But the fact is, there are only so many hours in a day, and there is only one you! I want you to not only get things done, but to feel as though you have done ENOUGH. Teaching is, of course, not the only career that presents this difficulty. Many positions have an extreme amount of work to complete and leave their workers feeling overwhelmed. However, there are a few things I have learned from numerous teachers, teacher leaders and coaching professionals that will hopefully be of help!
1-Acknowedge Your Achievements
I feel one of the best ways to prevent overwhelm is to acknowledge what you have done. List the goals you have already completed. List the things you are doing on a daily basis. List the accomplishments that have happened for your and your students. Hold on to those achievements and be proud of the work you are doing!
2-Focus on YOUR Goals
When there are so many things swirling around in your head, and many things being asked of you, it is important to know what YOUR goals are, and focus on them. Perhaps you want to see a greater increase in student reading levels this year, are hoping to get more independent writing time in for your students, and want to give more choice in assessments. Think of how the tasks at hand, or in your mind, are correlating to those goals, and whether they are helpful in completing them. Yes, there are some things that just need to be done, even if they are not what is on your personal list. But this step should help to narrow down the rest.
3-Consider the Task
Is this task something that you need to worry about right now, or can it be put on a sticky note and tucked away for later? I find that when I take a look at those "save for later" notes a few days or weeks later, either that task has already been completed, or it is no longer a worry or need. If you determine that you are thinking about an important idea or task, you move on to...
4-Make a Plan
Now that you know this is something to work on, make a plan to get it done. Consider when you would like it completed, the time it will take to do so, what it will look like when it is done, and how you will make it happen. Be as specific as you need to be, knowing that it may not go exactly the way you have planned. This may be short and sweet (for something like "adding a new 'Do Now' activity") or a bit longer (for a plan as involved as "implementing new strategy lessons"). Having a plan will help you to take control, and be more effective in accomplishing your goals.
5-Acknowledge Your Achievements
Yes, again! After getting through one or two of your goals, give yourself a pat on the back (or a spa day!) and hold on to those accomplishments, again! Take a look at how things have progressed, and tell yourself that you have done something well. This will help you to feel successful and content, and ready to take on the next task.
As a teacher, there will be constant cycles of work completed and work to do. I hope that taking stock of what you have done, focusing on your goals, and making plans to accomplish tasks will help you feel as if enough really is Enough!