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Teachers, it’s time to get ready for school 

I know that most, if not all, teachers from kindergarten to university levels have already attended teachers’ preparation seminars, workshops, and skills training. They are geared up for school to begin with renewed energy, and a determination to be the best teacher he or she can be. They will also face eager-to-learn and not-so-eager-to-learn students. Most days, after a long day teaching, they will go home exhausted, yet to face more challenges with their own children or families.

The following are tips to help teachers be effective and to have a successful school year:

Pause and take a deep breath: Do not push yourself into frazzles. Learning how to organize and plan is key to managing or preventing overwork. Every day, take time to laugh and exercise, if only for 10 minutes. Also, learning how to do deep breathing to relax is a plus. Take care of yourself.

Soothe your mind with relaxing music at least once a week: Ideally, if you do this for just five to 10 minutes a day, it will be great for your mind and soul. Choose music that has about 60 beats a minute or less. This is needed to help relax the heart and your nerves. If you are always listening to fast, high-intensity music, that will also impact your overall health. Take a break by listening to more quiet, slow music. For example, inspirational, classical music; light jazz; light country music. Believe it or not, this can impact your energy and outlook as a teacher.

Make sure you laugh a lot: No, do not laugh at the students – laugh at yourself. Laugh with your students. This is a greatly needed tool in the classroom. Research has consistently shown that good teachers have a sense of humor, and they are able to use humor as part of their teaching methods. Humor, used properly, can be a powerful addition to any lesson.

Take power naps: Learning how to take short naps during the day is excellent for overall health and managing stress. Many overworked teachers arrive home after school, to their own children, a chaotic house, and unplanned or uncooked meals. Take the time to relax. Learn how to have 15-minute naps. These can really rejuvenate the tired teacher.

Learn to love and respect all your students, even the not-so-lovable ones: It is important to seek to understand each child in the classroom. Seek to discern why he or she may be grumpy in class, or come late to class. Do not write them off. Love them. Reach out to them.

Listen to your students: It is imperative that the teacher learns to read between the lines. Listen to frustration, unusual questions, anger, and sadness in the voice. Notice untidy clothes or untidy hair. Be aware of changes in behavior or mood. Listen to the choice of words or expressions of disappointment, frustration, or anger. Respond to these concerns with compassion and a willingness to help. Even if you do not have the answers, your listening attitude mixed with a spirit of compassion will go a long way. Far too many teachers ignore the pain of their students and punish them when they do wrong or appear to be rebellious. Listen to them.

Dress decently: It is imperative that teachers dress neatly and appropriately. Dress also impacts behavior and attitude. Dress can inspire respect and honor. Avoid tight skirts, pants, blouses, and V-neck shirts that expose too much flesh.

Eat well: Teachers, make sure to start the day with a good breakfast. A well-balanced breakfast is important to provide the energy needed to face a potentially stressful day. Avoid rushing every morning to school with just coffee and donuts. That is a recipe for disaster. You may be energized for a while, but your veins and arteries will tell the tale in the long run. Make sure your breakfast includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and fruits with a boost from good vitamin tablets.

Make sure you are computer and internet literate: Every good teacher must have a good computer with a fast internet connection. Fifty years ago, a good teacher would be noted for having good books and access to a library. Today, the library is at your fingertips. The tools to reach the library are the internet and the computer. So is knowing how to maneuver the mouse, open and close programs, use a good search engine, print, download, email, and transfer files. Another plus for good teachers is being able to create effective slide shows by using good software (PowerPoint, Presentation, Prezi Present, Vyond, Zoho Show, etc.)

Be creative: A good teacher is one who is creative and thinks outside of the box. If the teacher lacks creativity and innovation, learning will be stifled. Students will be forced to stay in a learning box that often does not facilitate growth in many of them. The truth is creativity requires energy and too many teachers are lazy and simply regurgitate what they know to students. If you want good results and want to be a great teacher, be creative.

 • Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragment.org, telephone 327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org.  

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