For many of us, school is back in session. Let the madness begin! Due to budget cuts in all corners of the country, educators face changes and challenges like never before. How do you stay sane this year, in the midst of salary cuts, large class sizes, and increased responsibilities? Great question! I wish I had all the answers, but I can only relay some of what works for me.
Over the years I’ve learned that, while it sure would be nice, I can’t control everything. I had an unexpected professional change this year. I could have gotten upset and let it ruin my year but instead I decided to roll with it. What better way to challenge myself and grow as a teacher? I will make the best of things with the help of my colleagues, friends, and teammates—luckily most fit into multiple categories.
Budget cuts usually mean fewer teaching resources. Our district is asking teachers to be creative as we teach with fewer worksheets, copies, and workbooks to go around. Frustrating? You bet! Impossible? Difficult, but not impossible. Kids need paper-pencil practice while they’re learning, but this is a great opportunity to give them some hands-on practice as well. I plan to use lots of discussion, journaling, interactive games, and individual whiteboards in my classroom. All of these work with all grade levels! And the fact that document cameras have made their way into classrooms everywhere is a huge help.
With fewer staff members to take on the workload, many teachers may feel burned out earlier than usual this year. My school has a close staff with teachers pitching in to help out others regularly. I’m lucky. For those that aren’t so lucky, look to a trusted colleague or grade level teammate for some help. Share lesson plans and teaching strategies and don’t forget to ask for help when it’s needed. And pitch in to offer a fellow teacher some help if you see someone struggling.
We may not always agree with decisions our lawmakers or administrators make—I certainly don’t. But the key here is your students. They shouldn’t suffer because of poor decision-making. Find a way to make the best of this school year and let’s all cross our fingers that things look brighter next year. Maybe you have some tips to keeping sane this year. Please share!