Monday, September 15, 2014

Beating Burnout - Part Three

Have you ever heard of the April Sours? I hadn’t until this year when I got them big time. A blog post I shared then helped me shake them off and realize there are a lot of manageable things I can do to make my classroom and place of joy where meaningful learning takes place. These are some of my plans:

1. Move to a room with windows. - For some reason, schools built in the 70’s tend to be big on the interior classrooms without windows. For the first time in my teaching career, I’m going to be able to see natural light all day every day! I know this sort of dramatic shift isn’t possible for everyone, but shaking up your space might help you get new perspective.

2. Read, Read, Read - This summer I revisited a lot of my teaching bibles to remind myself of the skills I want to my students to acquire. Planning oral history projects with a social justice component have gotten me excited for the work we’ll be doing. I’ve also revisited some texts such as Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities to remind myself of why teaching matters.

3. Accept That School Can Be Fun - In our work-obsessed culture, we are often content to ask why something should be fun. Learning is work, after all. But it doesn’t have to take place in a drab environment designed to suck the creativity out of every human in the room. I’m doing a serious makeover of my new digs: comfy couches for reading, tables for collaborative learning, and a class pet. I’m watching a friend’s bunny while she returns to graduate school and my students are going to help. 

Teacher friends, what are you doing to make this year your best yet? Non-teacher friends, what do you value about your work? How do you make your workspace a space where you’re happy?

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