I love teaching music to kids! But there was a point in my teaching when I had lost track of my real goal – focusing all my efforts to develop an amazing music program.
When I started teaching music in the schools I was feeling overwhelmed by teaching. The competing demands and the overwhelming paperwork that was expected of me was simply too much. The forms and the deadlines just kept coming.
I needed to find a way to beat the administrative demands and focus my work on what I do best-teaching music! And of course I wanted to do the without jeopardizing my position at the school.
Looking into the way I was doing things made a big difference in the following years.
I started thinking more how I can stay happy in the profession teaching and minimize the administrative tasks associated with having a school position.
1. I focus on one task a day!
Just one. And this is it. This sounds simple but it takes a lot of mental discipline. If you start practicing this consistently you may see a big change in lowering stress in your teaching. Very often teacher burnout happens because we have too much on our plate. We are overwhelmed and cannot keep up. In addition, being the conscientious teachers that we are, we tend to pile up even more work for ourselves. The result? We end up stressed and not completing any of our tasks. To avoid that, focus on just one big task you need to achieve that day. If grades are due that day, then leave the parent letters till tomorrow. If you have a staff meeting after school today, leave a chunk of time for lesson planning for tomorrow. By focusing on just one big task a day you will find that you actually accomplish more and you feel less stress. Soon you will start scheduling your week strategically so that you can spread out the important tasks every day.
2. I use a lot of student help!
Managing a music classroom can take quite a bit of time. There is instruments, equipment, music to be filed, etc. The work never ends. So I have many of my students utilized to help around the classroom. Some are assigned to take care of the music and organize it. Others have offered to clean the room. We are all one community and everyone has a job to contribute with.
3. I take that time off!
The one thing I hear most often by my colleagues is Taking time off creates more work for me. This is true. And most of these teachers are dear friends of mine who work really hard and are great in the classroom! But ask yourself, are you really good for your students when you are sick, overwhelmed and stressed to the point you cannot teach? My answer is no! Taking time off is a healthy way to manage teacher stress. We all need it.
And Most Important When You Feel Overwhelmed By Teaching…
As a teacher you are first and most important to yourself! Only a teacher who cares about themselves can sustain the demands of the profession and continue doing the most rewarding job. Only then you can help your students succeed! And only then you can step back and enjoy your work as a music teacher! So when you feel overwhelmed by teaching, there is only one person you should take care of-yourself! And is there really anything more important than looking back at the stories of kids whose life you have touched through music!
Related reading: Amazing stories of students and the healing power of music
Read more stories about preventing teacher stress here.
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