How to Deal With Classroom Struggles & A Difficult School Environment
This article was written by Emma Tackett — a fifth grade Language Arts teacher in Texas! Teaching is her passion.
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This article is for all you educators, struggling to make it through this semester, so in need of winter break, that you wonder if you'll even come back. This is for all you teachers feeling trapped in your job due to administrative headaches, issues with co-workers, or struggles in the classroom. Don't worry, it gets better.
One of the most difficult things to do as a teacher (or anyone really), is to wake up every day and go to a job you dread, to feel like you are a failure. To fear seeing that administrator who has it out for you, for reasons beyond your understanding. To know that a group of teachers, in your school is talking about you, and that others, who don’t know you, are listening. To feel isolated and alone. To go into your classroom and feel like your lesson or classroom management is not working to way you planned. When you are struggling in or at your work, it can feel like its possible to stay positive. At some point, most teachers feel these things in one way or another. Some even get physically sick from the stress, and not knowing how to overcome them.
If this sounds familiar, I tell you this. You CAN make it. There is a light at the end of your tunnel. And it does get better.
Rest & Recharge
If you're struggling inside your classroom, trust me when I say: You are definitely NOT alone! Use these school breaks to rest and reflect! First, and most importantly, take time to relax and recharge the batteries. Read a book, spend time with family, take some walks. Once you're feeling rested and in the appropriate head space, it's time to take control!
"The key to being a good educator is being a good student, being able to be resilient and change what needs to change."
Reflect & Research
Reflect on what went wrong and what went right so far this year. The first step is identifying what is not working, and then reflecting on why it did not work. The key to being a good educator is being a good student, being able to be resilient and change what needs to change. Ask for guidance from a fellow teacher or instructional coach you trust. Research new ways to do the things you feel need improvement, then begin planning how to implement these new ideas. This is how you create your light—your hope that tomorrow will be a better day. You have taken what was a weakness, identified it, and figured how to take control of it! Start the days after break fresh, give the new research and ideas a try, stay positive and fluid.
If you already know the school you're in is not the school for you, due to poor administrators or co-worker troubles, begin focusing on something else. Focus on doing the best you can in your classroom. Instead of worrying about your school climate, begin looking for a new school to call home. Use all the struggles you've been through as a lesson learned. You now know what you need in terms of co-worker support and administration standards. Try to think about it like you would think about dating. You tried a few that didn’t work. In the end, you learned enough about yourself to make a better choice next time. This is your opportunity to go find the right one!
Begin working on your resume, start going to job fairs, apply online to schools you're interested in. Research each place you're applying, to ensure you don't find yourself in the same situation again. Your new school family is out there for you somewhere!
Education is a difficult field. Teaching is not for the weak. But you have the ability to change, to adapt, and to take control. And if the school climate isn’t for you, remember you can always look elsewhere. Don't let a negative environment bring you down. Be the amazing educator you set out to be when you got into this profession. You've got this!
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