Written by: Holly Boleski & Christy Trombetta
As you count down from 10 to 1 this new year, help us count from 1 to 10 as we explore 10 new year’s resolutions that teachers can take into their classrooms and personal lives in 2022.
Because the past few years have been especially challenging for teachers, these resolutions focus on increasing teachers’ happiness and decreasing their stress this year.
1. Shut It Down
Shut down your computer at the end of the workday and do not open it again until the next workday. It’s ok to let that email or text message you receive after hours sit until the next day.
Just because you can be easily reached outside of work hours, it doesn’t mean you have to be available 24/7. Setting these boundaries at work will allow you time to focus on the things that are important to you outside of the classroom and feel recharged and more focused when you start your next workday.
2. Focus On What Works
With the introduction of so many new digital tools, it’s easy to get wrapped up in utilizing many in your classrooms. The problem is that we often get lost in everything we’re managing, and maybe even a little bogged down by it all.
Think of a few tools that work for you and your students, even if they’re old-fashioned, and get rid of the rest. You’ll feel lighter and less stressed with less tools to manage.
3. Be OK With Failure
Have you ever seen someone fail at something and bounce right back? Do you wonder how they’re capable of letting go of failure and simply moving forward? These resilient people likely see failure as a growth and learning opportunity and not a dead end.
Mindset strategies like Growth Mindset and Failing Forward help us understand that by accepting our downfalls and failures and learning from them, we’re likely to be happier with the failure we’re experiencing and maybe even grow to appreciate it.
4. Fill Your Bucket
Find time in your life to do something that makes you happy and “fills your bucket.” Read, stroll the aisles of your favorite store, craft, hug someone, look at pictures of puppies online, hug a puppy.
Even if only for a few minutes, the time we spend doing the things we truly enjoy allows us to re-energize and pay that feeling forward when we need the energy later. After all, you can’t take from an empty bucket.
5. Take A Breath
Whether literally or figuratively speaking, the air we breathe or the space we provide ourselves before responding can be life-changing. In moments of stress, take a minute to go outside and breathe in some fresh air. That fresh air can lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Need more? Have your morning coffee outside (with a warm coat or blanket, of course), take a quick walk around your building, or simply open a window. The same holds true for the figurative breaths we take when responding to stressful situations.
Instead of jumping to a response, take a moment to pause so you can be sure your response is not just a reaction. You’ll find your responses to be more considerate and level-headed, which can often defuse a tough situation.
6. Be Kind to Yourself
Do you find yourself complimenting others as you go about your day? We often find it easy to lift others up in this way but can be much harsher when thinking about ourselves. Try not to allow your thoughts about yourself to be overly critical.
Remember to treat yourself with the same respect and compassion that you show others. Give yourself grace to make mistakes, and don’t expect perfectionism. We are all a work in progress.
7. Ask for Help
As teachers, we are really good at encouraging students to ask for help when they need it but often have trouble heeding our own advice. Many teachers are perfectionists by nature and like to do things their way. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it can become overwhelming if you are taking on too much at one time. Give yourself a break once in a while and reach out for help when you need it. In addition, when help is offered to you, don’t feel bad about accepting it.
8. Practice Gratitude
One of the simplest things we can do to boost our mental health is to practice gratitude. Take note of the little things you are thankful for throughout your day. When you say “thanks,” consider what you are really grateful for.
Share your appreciation for others with them. Consider jotting down moments of gratitude in a journal that you can look back on when you need a little reminder of the things that make you smile.
9. Protect Your Peace
With social media and numerous media outlets consuming our life, it’s easy these days to hear all the bad and crazy things that happen in our world. Try to recognize where the negativity is coming from and set boundaries that will limit the negativity you let in your life.
Try turning off the tv while getting ready for work or not checking Twitter before bed. Is it a coworker that you find is bringing you down? Limit the time you spend with them by having lunch together once a week instead of every day. Is a parent constantly calling wanting to talk about their student?
Try proactively scheduling a weekly meeting instead of being available to them on-demand. The more boundaries you set on this negativity, the better your mental health will be.
10. Be More Inclusive
Humans are social beings. We like to be included and have all experienced the not-so-great feeling of being excluded. Even if it doesn’t bother you personally, recognize that others might not feel the same.
Practice being more inclusive by inviting others to events that you normally wouldn’t, asking a new teacher to lunch, or asking that student who is hard to connect with to help you in class. Even the smallest cues of acceptance—smiling in the hallways, nodding when you agree, or greeting a student by name—go a long way in letting them know you accept them.
Plus, practicing these behaviors in front of your students is a great way to model inclusiveness for them too!