Teachers are some of the most influential people in the world. They help students learn about the life, about themselves, and their world. But good teachers don’t just teach. They focus on self-care and improve in their craft. So, if you want to be a great teacher, check out these activities that can improve your self-care and help achieve your learning goals.
Art is an incredible medium to use inside and outside the classroom. Let’s focus on the external aspects first as it can provide a wonderful and relaxing stress reliever. Look in your town to see if you have studios that offer “paint a plate” classes or team building sessions. The best part is no experience is required – you show up, follow their instructions, laugh, and enjoy the creation of art.
Inside the classroom, art teaches many different subject areas, including math, science, and language arts. Art can also help you teach problem-solving skills and critical thinking. It even provides a creative outlet that allows students to express themselves and learn new ways.
Reading and Writing
Reading is one of the best ways to develop professionally. Reading other teachers’ blogs and educational theory books can help you learn new strategies for your classroom management. Reading about specific issues in education can also help you improve yourself as a teacher, whether learning how to create an influential classroom culture or how to deal with difficult parents.·
TIP: don’t always read for professional development. Make sure that at least half of your reading is on topics unrelated to education that you enjoy – maybe historical fiction or hobby interests. This choice will keep you mentally fresh and give you space away from always thinking about education.
Closely related to reading is, of course, writing. After reading, spend some time reflecting and then writing. This process allows you to continue your learning by articulating and preserving it in a journal or electronic file. If writing strikes fear in your heart, understand that there are different types of written expression – not just paragraphs. You can use online tools – https://www.mindmaps.app/ – to create mind maps. These are electronic brainstorming sessions that allow you to create connections, take your thinking deeper, capture your ideas, and end with a product that can be shared. Your writing time – much like that of reading – should also focus on personal interests rather than only reserving the time for professional aspects.·
TIP: If you do not even know where to start, set a timer for 10 minutes and write during that time. Spending only 10 minutes a day writing will yield nearly 61 hours during the year!
Research is a crucial part of life and the teaching profession. Students are increasingly expected to be able to find and use information in their everyday lives, and they expect their teachers to do it too. For teachers, research can be a way to tap into new ideas or confirm your own observations about your students’ development.
Research, even in non-educational topics, is an excellent way to utilize free time for the benefit of others. For instance, I have a passion project I am working on, and it stems from one line in a local history book – the project is to tell the story of Civil War soldiers who deserted after finding buried gold along a rail line. Right now, their superior officers are on the hunt for them and this treasure – it’s intriguing! This research is teaching creative problem-solving that can be used for the benefit of others.
The skills from research help in making decisions as you are forced to validate source reliability and analyzing them critically. These skills transfer nicely into the classroom for students. As has been a theme of this blog, you can use self-care time for your own benefit and your students as well.
Technology-Based Professional Development
Technology-based professional development is the use of technology to support learning and development. YouTube videos and free courses abound for just about any hobby or personal interest. Make sure you purse these for personal self-care and growth. Specifically focusing on the professional learning side for teachers, the Stride PD Center is a perfect example of virtual classrooms, online courses, and other resources. Technology-based professional development can be particularly helpful for teachers who are not required to participate in face-to-face activities with their colleagues. One advantage that technology offers is that it provides access to resources outside of school hours and allows for more flexibility for working professionals.
In conclusion, make sure that your self-care is central to any professional development efforts. When you feed your soul, your personal joy increases and that translates over into your professional life. Self-care IS personal development and that leads to professional development.