Friday, February 18, 2011

36 Little Ways to De-stress

I'm only preaching to myself, here's a list I'm working on. This was also part of the Avoiding Burnout session I presented to the lovely Rochester Keyboard Club last week.

I am so tired of the clouds, the snow, and the fog. Perhaps these will help me focus on something else?

1. Clean out your desk. Do you really need to hang on to those dried-out markers?
2. Join or engage in your professional organization. Read professional literature. You will learn many things that will make your job easier. Attend a convention; seek out other teachers to commiserate, I mean collaborate, on ideas.
3. Continue to play and practice. You joined the music community for a good reason.
4. Stay ahead in photocopying and planning.
5. Use a syllabus to help your students stay organized. A syllabus will let your students and their parents or guardians see that you are a serious teacher who has a serious purpose.
6. Have enough supplies. It is annoying to have to hunt for the last paper clip or marking pen.
7. Leave your desk and piano clean at the end of the day so that you can start the new one off fresh.
9. Have an established routine at the start of the lesson so that your students can discipline themselves. Perhaps it is warm-up scales or a theory page or computer time. This gives you a chance to breathe between students.
10. Planning lessons for each student is part of our job. Have a short and long term goal for each student and for your studio.
11. Have a system for students to use to check out shared supplies.
12. Be accurate in the way you keep attendance and billing records.
13. Don’t work through lunch/dinner. You need a break.
14. Have each student complete an information sheet so that you have all of the information you need to contact a parent or guardian.
15. Be reasonable in the amount of homework you assign. Help students see that it is an important part of their learning process. They can see through busy work. You don’t need more to correct.
16. Delegate some work to your students and parents. One of them would LOVE to be the next recital hostess. One of them might have a terrific time decorating for the theme, or coming up with a theme.
17. Share recitals, be a part of a larger group to share the work load. Many hands…
18. If you can, use your most productive time of day to do your hardest tasks.
19. The universal teacher lunch of a soft drink and anything from a vending machine will not give you the energy you need to get through the afternoon.
20. Wisely use those small blocks of time you have between appointments. If a student misses a lesson, how do you spend that time?
21. Plan interesting lessons with lots of varied activities to hold your students’ attention.. It is just as important to hold your own attention. If you did a masters in Chopin, walk students into that pool of knowledge.
22. Have a place during lessons to safely store your keys and other personal belongings so you don’t have to worry about them.
23. Arrive a little early and stay a little late, but more than 10 minutes may be a waste.
24. Jot quick notes on your lesson plans about what worked and what you need to improve before you teach the same unit of material again or a specific student had trouble in what area so you can focus on it again.
25. Dress professionally even on casual days. You don’t want to attend an impromptu parent conference dressed in ragged jeans and old sneakers.
26. Set up a folder for each student so that you can store the paperwork that crosses your desk.
27. Share a laugh with your students and with your colleagues. Nothing chases stress away faster.
28. Plan your lessons by the year, the semester, the week, and the day.
29. Keep a book of inspirational sayings handy for you and your students to read on tough days. Show them their old guild or recital programs. Sometimes they need to see their progress too. Play through a favorite piece from an old book. It invigorates everyone!
30. Be flexible. Much of what you do just can’t be done perfectly. Adjust your expectations for perfection if necessary.
31. Be friendly, most of all to yourself.
32. Add a green plant or flowers to your room.
33. Decorate your classroom with students’ work if possible.
34. When the task seems impossible, remind yourself that teachers made a difference in your life when you were younger. You can do the same for your students.
35. Make a list of the reasons why you chose education as your profession. Tuck it away in a safe place, but carry it in your heart. Keep a happy file for yourself-remember those little successes and how far you’ve come.
36. Search out beauty. Poetry, art, music, people, take photographs, write, cook, engage the senses.

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