10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Sanity? General by Joel Wagner - June 13, 2012May 28, 20161 Five years ago, I wrote a series of seven articles called â€œQuestions That Will Save Your Careerâ€ that still remain among the most visited articles on this site. When I wrote those, I had successfully completed my 5th year in education. This summer, after 10 years, I am revisiting some of these older concepts. Today, I revisit How Do I Keep My Sanity? How Do I Keep My Students Quiet? How Do I Keep My Students Engaged? How Do I Keep My Students Interested? How Do I Keep My Students Learning? How Do I Keep My Students Away From Me? How Do I Keep My School Administration Happy? How Do I Keep My Sanity? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Quiet? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Engaged? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Interested? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Learning? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Away From Me? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My School Administration Happy? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Sanity? Don’t you ever fear that you’re going to burn out? Burnout is a real threat to teachers. That’s why there are articles like these on this site: 65 Things You Should Do Right Now To Avoid Burnout The Essence of Hope Help! Iâ€™m On The Verge of Burnout!!! Do I Quit Teaching Or What Do I Do? Loving My Job; Hating My Work Teacher Burnout: 20 Insights From a 17-Year Veteran Teacher On The Brink of Burnout Teacher Burnout: A Sad Story Clearly burnout is a major factor with teaching. So it’s vital for teachers to take proactive steps toward maintaining (or reclaiming) their own sanity. Five years ago, I suggested the following: Eliminate clutter Eliminate distractions Set office hours Find something else that you enjoy, and do it Make friends outside of education Give Read 25 Tips For Less Stress To these, I would like to add: Take some days off One band director I worked with told me that her principal had advised everyone on staff to take a “mental health day” once a month. As hard as it is to pull away from the classroom sometimes, it’s vital for your mental health to do that. We all get behind on personal business from time to time. Take a day to pay bills if you need to and get back on target. Or to get the oil changed in your car or just to go get a professional massage. Whatever it is for you, take a day to take care of you. The kids will be rude to the substitute. The sub won’t follow your lesson plan. Your classroom will be out of order. Your desk will be moved. Nobody knows what happened to the goldfish. Be ready for it. Here’s where the next key comes in… Don’t take things personally Kids are kids and kids will act like kids from time to time because kids are kids. No kidding. Even the most mature 12-year-olds occasionally act like 12-year-olds. Go figure! Don’t take their immaturity personally. They are just being who they are. And that’s okay. Your boss didn’t assign you bus duty on Friday afternoon because she doesn’t like you. It’s just how things happened. Deal with it and move on. It’s not personal. And if it is, the only way it works is if you take it personally. Detox I realize a lot of teachers cannot leave their work at work or else they would never see their house. But if you must take your work home, at least have one clean room! One place you can go where work doesn’t follow you. Maybe a nearby lake or forest too. Whatever works, but get away and spend some time with your self. Sometimes. Not all the time. Lighten up One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was during my sixth year when I was working at a new campus with a much more experienced band director. Very often he would just tell me, “Lighten up, Joel.” I don’t know that there is one specific thing I did, but overall I lightened up. And ya know what happened? The kids started responding better to me. It’s sort of the culmination of many other tips and tricks and you finally just let go and lighten up. And things begin to flow. Try it this year in one area where you struggle. Don’t check email all the time. Don’t answer the phone while you’re teaching. Be more patient with your kids. Something. LIGHTEN UP and see what happens! Work out Whatever it is, do some sort of physical activity regularly. Even if it’s just going for a hike or walk. Something is better than nothing. And the endorphins seem to give you much more clarity in your mind. Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.