This week we wrapped up our first semester of the school year at our middle school. And the stress level was palpable. Teachers were feeling the crunch of what seems to be a never ending to-do list. I swear every time I opened my email there was another thing to do. And I wasn't the only one; my students were feeling it too. I asked what in the world was going on when I saw one of my kiddos looking exasperated -- her reply, "there is just so much to do." Meanwhile, other students were acting so off task it was as if they had never been in a classroom before: a sure sign that their formative minds are completely overwhelmed. I honestly left my building Thursday afternoon, frustrated (like, where did I go wrong; how did I let myself get so stressed and why did I let myself stress my students out?). Time to dig deep and try to come up with solutions. I called my stepmom (a huge support in my life for decades and a veteran teacher with more than 30 years of experience) for ideas and also of course hit up some favorite blogs and websites. In case you had a week like mine (AAAHHHH - make it stop!), here's what I found.
Lately, I've felt the stress creep in. Looking at the calendar, the timing is about right. School is in full swing, the breaks are few and far between (no fall break for my school district), the work is piling up. Oh, and the gloss of "this is all new and shiny!" is wearing off. Kids are getting tired. Their work is getting harder. You get the idea and if you are a teacher, you know what I mean because you are living it. That's not to say I don't love my job. I do -- I love it to the tips of my little dressy flats --, but if you pour your soul into this job the way the work demands, it's stressful. It just is. So as teachers, we have to not only constantly work to create the best lesson and to build lasting relationships with our students, but also to keep stress in check so that we can be our best selves -- the selves our students need. So this week, I've taken a deep look at mindfulness as a way to combat the stress both in my own life, but also in the lives of my students. Here's what I discovered along the way.
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