I'm excited to share with you 5 Nonteaching Tips For Back To School! Back to school. I know. Those three words do one of two things. They either burn your eyes or give you butterflies. It's okay to experience either, or even both, of these feelings. There is SO much work that goes into preparing for back to school. It's like preparing for a marathon..except we don't end up skinny in the end. Ha!
5 Nonteaching Tips For Back To School
So, you've spent the summer soaking in the sun, reading a book or twelve, and peeing whenever you want. It's the good life, right?! I'm sure you have also prepped some for your classroom, attended a PD or ten, and hit the Target dollar spot or the Dollar Tree a few hundred times. We don't fault you here. It's in your blood. It's like telling a kid to “not touch that.” You now it's going to happen. There is some sort of magnetic pull that
forces beckons us to buy all the things. Teaching is not just what you do, it's who you ARE.
But, here's the deal, it's not the only thing you are. You may be a wife, husband, mother, father, friend, son, or daughter. There are several careers in this world that are all encompassing, where your heart and mind are “on call” 24/7. You just can't help it. Doctors and lawyers come to mind…of course those people get paid what they are worth. And then there are teachers. YOU, on the other hand, are ministering to all walks of life with only the tricks in your pocket and the few coins tossed your way. There is something important that you must understand though.
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Truth. Before you hit the ground running and gear up for the marathon known as the 2016-2017 school year, let's come up with a plan to keep you whole. We want you present for your school family and your home family. We want you fulfilled and not grasping at straws. When I made the decision to re-brand from Kreative in Kinder to Kreative in Life, it was because God changed my heart in a mighty way. My heart will always be for kids, but currently, my heart beats to love and minister to YOU. I know your job is hard. I want to virtually squeeze you and encourage you so you don't give up because YOU ARE IMPORTANT in the ministry of education. Our future depends on it. Crazy to think of it that way…no pressure, right?! Seriously though, our future president may be in your class this year. The child that may develop a cure for cancer may learn to love science because of YOU. This is why we have to do this together. So, where do we start? Let's not go crazy here. Let's start with a few easy things that we can control.
I know, this seems trivial. Don't stop reading though. I'm going to be honest, I have told my family straight up, you cannot count on me during August and May. How sad is that? Well, it's the truth. I don't know if I am coming or going during the beginning or end of school. My favorite quote is from the movie Steele Magnolias, “He's so confused, he doesn't know if he should scratch his watch or wind his butt!” Well, that is the struggle bus I stay on. And, after I have worked a ten plus hour day, I come home, and my husband asks me what is for dinner. Y'all, I have often thought inside my head, “I want to punch you in the face right now for asking me this.” Granted that never happens because he's cute, I love Jesus, violence is not the answer, yada yada yada. Ha! But seriously, I hate that question!! So, knowing that we are going to be on the crazy train, prepare now!
I've done several things in the past to help with this. I have prepared freezer meals. Yes, it took an entire Saturday, but I was able to prep a months worth of meals. I have also put a post on FB asking others if they want to create a meal club with me, which worked out great. So, let's say there are six people in the group. I would choose a family meal (based upon agreed parameters), and I would make six of that meal. Then, we would all exchange and have six different meals. Another system my family has used was on Sunday after church, my husband would grill at least three meats (chicken, sausage, steaks, or hamburger something) for the week. They would last us through Thursday as long as everything was stored in good containers. If I knew we were eating spaghetti or tacos, I would go ahead and make the meat to have it ready. Then we would toss in a steamer bag of veggies, open a salad bag, and voila, we had a good, healthy meal. Eating out is expensive, and eating crap makes our bodies feel bad. Fuel your body with the good stuff!
Leftovers are not just what our families live on in the kitchen, it's what we end up giving them. This is one that I struggled with a lot. I went back to school after we adopted our kids. I originally went to school to teach high school, but then I subbed in a high school and realized that I could not teach someone taller than me. I'm 5'2″, so scratch big kids all together. Ha! I remember when I started teaching, and I always burned the midnight oil. One day my youngest flat out told me, “Mom! I thought when you got out of school, you would have more time for us!” Y'all, I can't even put into words what that did to my mama heart. It didn't change my work habits, though. I continued on that path for a few more years until one day I had this epiphany, I can never get this time back with them. As an adoptive mom, I am already missing all of their firsts–the beginning years. When my oldest started high school, it sunk in. This is it. I'm about to lose her, and here I am, in this classroom, the sun has gone down, and I am missing it all. Life changed for us at that moment. I didn't miss a thing. I took off to see important school things. I stayed after school but made sure I was home before the sun went down. Making dinner at home became important.
My daughter graduated this past June and my only regret is that I hadn't made that decision sooner. Listen, you will never be caught up. There will always be more work to do. We can always simply do more. Your job as a teacher is to love and teach to the best of your ability, and when those children go home, you pass the baton to their parents. We all know that there will be parents who won't pick up that baton, but at the end of the day, are you picking up your kids' baton? Make time for your family. You can only do what you can do. Don't let your career suck you so dry that you have nothing left to give the other areas of your life. It's a hard choice, but I promise you can find balance, and your family will not feel like they are second fiddle.
Yes, you read that correctly. I dare you to take ten minutes a day for yourself. Read a good book or a devotion or just jam out to your favorite tunes. You are about to chase your tail. You may even show up to school with two different shoes. We won't judge you, though. Take ten minutes and shave your legs or wax those eyebrows. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself. I like to pick out my clothes for the week…I know, I am a weirdo, but this is something that makes my life easier. On the weekend, don't spend it all at school. Go to a movie, swim, or take a freaking nap. I bet you are exhausted already! Stress makes us physically and emotionally ill. You are no good to anyone unless you take care of yourself! Do not feel guilty because you left school before the sun went down to head to a happy hour with girlfriends. Laughter is the best medicine.
Agh! Don't throw rocks at me. Have you seen that e-card? “Exercise creates endorphins. Endorphins make people happy. Happy people don't kill people.” HA! Well, it's true. Y'all know I do not like to exercise. I tell people that if you see me running, know I am being chased by someone and call 911! But, seriously, exercise is an important part of taking care of ourselves. Even getting up fifteen minutes early every morning and walking around the block will help you. You will be more awake and alert. You will also kick start your metabolism and increase your focus. And, that nonsense about endorphins that I mentioned above is completely true! I would bet that if you added something as simple as a morning walk or jog to your daily routine, you wouldn't need Starbucks to get you through each day, and then you can use that money to treat yourself to a pedicure on the weekend!
Relationships. We can't survive without them. It doesn't matter if you are new to a school or if you have been there for ten years–there is always room to build relationships. Make it a point to get to know your team. Be humble. I remember a few years ago, a team from another school came over to observe my team because we work so well together. They met with us during our planning and asked us a series of questions. One question was, “Why do we work so well together?” I loved our answer. We each started listing each other's strengths (not weaknesses). Paula was the best singer and knew all the songs. She also was the book whisperer. She knew every author and every book. We called Casey our pretty, tall blond. Everyone needs one! She was kind, generous, and always lent a hand. She was helpful and if someone couldn't make it to school, she would take care of things. She was also tall enough to help me put up and take down all the things. And then there was Marilyn who we called Sparky. She was the one up at 4 a.m. emailing us all the things for the week. I would text her and tell her to calm down, we are all still asleep. Ha! She was always at school at 6 and ready to hit the ground running. She made sure we didn't forget events and looked ten steps ahead to keep us in the know. Then, there was me. I was creator of things: newsletter, parent notes, new activities, etc. I was also in charge of all things technology.
You see, we didn't focus on our weaknesses. We worked so great together because we recognized each other's strengths. If someone were to ask me a question that I did not know, I knew which of my teammates did. Individually, we are all a work in progress, but together we were a force to be reckoned with. Your team is your lifeline at school. Get to know them! My team was the first people to find out that I was pregnant a few years ago with my miracle baby. I had received the call at school and I was in shock. You know what they did? They stopped and prayed for me right then and there. And then, when God called my baby home, they were there every single day for me as I slowly picked the pieces of my heart up and put them back together.
Whether you want to admit it or not, you need each other. You are not just teaching together, you are doing life with each other. So, head to dinner, happy hour, or a movie together. Have a BBQ with your families. Not many careers give you a team. Look at this for the blessing that it is. And, if someone is not a team player, don't let it deter your relationships with the others. When you chose to let one bad apple ruin it for everyone, they win. You are choosing to give them your JOY. Don't do that! Your joy is for YOU. Don't just hand it to someone else. No one has control over you unless you give it to them. This includes your heart and state of mind. Remember that song…let it go? Yup. Let. It. Go.
I hope you have enjoyed these 5 Nonteaching Tips For Back To School. It doesn't matter how much time, effort, or money you put into preparing yourself for this school year, there will be trials. Stuff will happen and you just have to go with it. Be flexible. Be joyful. Remember that you are not perfect and no one expects you to be. Take care of yourself.
Every morning my prayer is always, “Lord fill me to overflowing so that I may overflow in to the lives I touch today. Give me a spirit of wisdom, patience and joy to love each child and adult as you love me, to forgive each child and adult as you have forgiven me and to freely give mercy and grace in every circumstance.”
Fill up that cup friends and get ready to overflow. It starts with YOU. YOU were made for THIS!
God has called you, he has equipped you, and he will sustain you. YOU ARE ENOUGH!