During the week, my days require structure. I’m really big on habit and routine because they help me achieve little successes throughout my day, without even thinking about it. As an educator, structuring your day is one of the best things you can do. If you don’t have a schedule and routine for your day, you are not only doing your students a disservice- you’re doing yourself a disservice.
We know that our students thrive off of structure so why not consider that we might do the same? In reflecting on the days I’m at my best, I’ve asked myself a series of questions to help recognize patterns. I’ve then taken these patterns and used them to my benefit. Today, I’d like to share those questions with you.
When do I do my best work?
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Can you jump up and get going first thing in the morning or do you need to ease into things? Do you prefer being the first in the building in the morning?
Teachers are one of two types- those who work before school and those who work after. Now, we all know that we work all day, everyday, but I have a feeling you know what I mean. I’m a before school worker. I’m in at 7:00 am everyday when the kids don’t arrive until 8:15. I’m motivated, alert, and creative. Why not take advantage of that?
It’s funny because this year, most of my team are after school workers. It creates an interesting dynamic because I have to remind myself not to feel guilty for heading home before the rest of them. However, by the end of the day, my brain is fried. I’m not working productively. I know that I need to head home and change my pattern at this point. I’m no use to my team if I stick around and push through. I’ve listened to myself to know when I do my best work and I challenge you to do the same.
When do I need the most energy?
For me- it’s teaching math. I need my students engaged and enthusiastic which means I’m jumping around the classroom and raising my voice. Energy at an all time high.
Now, while this is a targeted example, I’m sure if you think about it you can identify the times in your day you just need to give a little extra. Do your kids come in with a million stories and questions? Are you jumping to action the moment the bell rings? How can you structure these times to make sure you’re ready for the challenge?
Sometimes I like to take a few breaths or have a quick snack. Sometimes I like to say a mantra or play music to boost me (and my students) up. However, what I’ve found most helpful, is balancing high energy with times of rest and reset.
When do I need to rest and reset?
I think most of us ignore our body’s signals for rest and reset during the day. We see it in our students so why do we have such trouble seeing it in ourselves? My top way to rest and reset is to move. Maybe I’ll do a slow lap around my classroom. Another option: close your eyes for a moment. Take some time with your kiddos and just sit with a little less stimulus. I’m also a big proponent for turning off the lights if possible.
Within my day, I try to rest and reset at the same times as my students. We follow specials/planning which is nice because we can use the time to unwind a bit. Often, they need a GoNoodle before we can get to work. I’ll do it with them.
Another time that I strongly encourage rest and reset is after lunch and recess. This is the division between or morning and afternoon lessons. When the students come in, we sit with the lights off, listening to quiet music, and read for at least ten minutes. We then transition into quiet math practice. Without this time, we could not continue our day productively. It is incredibly important.
If you look at your schedule, what natural transitions can you identify? Where can you work in moments to close your eyes, take breaths, get moving, and complete activities that bring you all back to your center?
When do I feel most inspired?
This ones a biggie, especially because it’s not as consistent as the other moments throughout the day. In my case, I can normally answer this question with one response: when I work with others. Knowing this, I work times for collaboration into my day. Whether I’m popping in to chat with my teammate for a quick moment or we’re gathering together for planning, I find that working with others to be incredibly inspiring. My mood lifts, my motivation changes.
If you can recognize times in your day when you’re at a low and need a little pick me up, I encourage you to reach out. Take a moment to talk with an adult. Your kids will survive, I promise. As teachers, we forget how nice it is to talk to another teacher, until we do. Then, we’re off running again we forget, again. This is your reminder. Use your coworkers as lifelines and offer them the same. You’ll thank me for it later.
How do you structure your day? Have you recognized pattern that help you succeed? What do you need to have a good day? Leave a comment below.