In our recent survey of 300+ teachers, we heard the following challenges again and again:
“There’s not enough time!”
“I feel unsupported!”
Can you relate? I sure can! As a special education teacher for 9 years, I’ve had my fair share of tears, breakdowns and margaritas trying to cope with the stress of the job. Stressors including trying to plan and cope with IEP meetings, implementing the common core, behavioral management plans, all before breakfast. Truth be told, years ago I almost left teaching altogether. But I stuck it out and now I’m super happy, calm and fulfilled. So what changed?
I learned tools to:
- Increase my happiness
- Identify my needs and how to communicate them with others
- Manage my time efficiently
- Set healthy boundaries with others (especially with people at work)
- Find joy (not stress) in trying times
- Foster supportive relationships
- And, most importantly…
I learned and accepted the truth that I am the only person responsible for my happiness!
Despite all the curriculum changes, evaluations, and people-pleasing…at the end of the day, your well-being trumps it all. And yet, how often do we focus on our own well-being?
You may be thinking, “I don’t have time to focus on me!” I hear you! That’s why I’m sharing a 3 minute (yes, only 3 minutes!) strategy to incorporate in your busy day. Here’s the…
3 Minute Life-Changing, Happiness-Increasing Strategy:
1. Time It: Grab your phone and set a timer for 2 minutes. Easy enough, right?
2. Write It: Pick an area of your life and take 2 minutes to answer this question:
To make BLANK (how about the classroom?!) 2% happier what would I need?
3. Work It: Great! Now with that insight, take the last minute to answer this question:
What’s one small step that I can take this week to move toward that need?
If you’re the type of person that likes examples (I am too!), check out my free-write below:
After a very chaotic morning in the classroom, I needed to write an IEP. My brain was scattered and I was exhausted. I also forgot to do an important task that affected my co-teacher and I was feeling guilty. Here’s a summary of my free-write:
To make this IEP 2% happier what would I need? (granted I wasn’t making the IEP happier, but you get the idea) “I need to let go of the morning and focus. I need to apologize for my mistake so I can let it go. I feel terrible and I’m overwhelmed and tired. I need to shake off this funk and be productive. I need to get this IEP done. What’s one small step that I can take? Write a short, apologetic email to Alex and let it go. Grab a cup of coffee, take 30 seconds to put on Pandora, and get to it!”
I took 3 minutes to get clear and another 3 minutes to write the apology email, but those 6 minutes made me 100x’s more efficient and happier for the rest of the afternoon.
I hope that you can see how powerful 3 minutes can be! This exercise can be done several times a day, on both big and small areas of your life. I also want to point out that we’re talking about growth and not complete transformation. Taking small, measurable steps towards increasing your happiness is all that is necessary (aka: we’re not talking about New Year’s Resolutions here). Trust us, 2% can add up quickly.
Focusing on happiness is essential to your well-being in AND out of the classroom. Research shows that drudging through each and every day causes stress, unproductive behavior, depression, illness – the whole kit & caboodle! There’s no better time than right now to make a slight shift to a happier you.
It’s a classroom strategy too! The next time you’re working with a student who is at their wits-end and will not do their work…have them do this exercise! Your mind will be blown!