What Matters… as school gets busier

February 15, 2016 , In: TEACH

One thing I love about teaching is, if you’re dedicated, there’s little room for boredom: there is always something to do and always some change – a new class to teach, a resource to create, an idea to try out. On the flipside, this never-ending list of things we can do as educators can be a source of stress.

When each tick in your to-do list equals half a day’s work and you’re immune to that extra cup of coffee, it pays to know and focus on your priorities. So what matters when you’re feeling swamped?

Plan for learning

We’re called teachers because of the root of that word. Make sure to keep writing your lesson plans or work programs. Also, know where your students are at and extend them just past their level. Don’t just ‘wing it’, plan and that will allow you to have the headspace to still be creative and inspiring when you teach.

Enjoy your students

Laugh with your students and continue to celebrate their growth. Play a game with them, it’s worth the five minutes you’ll need to spare! A short, cute or funny video can also do the trick (see examples below – tried & tested in my classes!).

Communicate with parents

Your students’ growth is not all on you. Many parents want to be more involved and would appreciate being given specific ways they can help.

Stick to your classroom management plan

Grumpiness might be expected of teachers as the term gets busier and pressures pile up but that doesn’t have to be you! Don’t be tempted to give that ‘teacher look’ that you think works when it actually just strains relationships. I give a quick warning if it’s warranted and don’t make a big deal of it. If after a warning a student continues to disrupt his/her own learning, I have sit-out spots where one can work quietly and reflect on choices made. Students in sit out will then raise their hand when they’re ready to go back to their seat by telling me about the rules they broke, why it matters and what they will now do.

Rest, every day is a fresh start

Switch off, rest. Some of us do it by having dedicated family time, others through a book, a friendly chat or a cuppa. Whatever it is, choose to have a break. This will get you ready to start anew. You can hold onto the grudges and misfortunes of yesterday or you can remind yourself of the privilege it is to be part of your students’ lives. Every day is a fresh start. Be inspiring today. Teach passionately.

Spend time with God

If you’re not a follower of Jesus, I  ask with humility – how  do you cope? I find I need to cry out to God and rely on His grace. What does that look like?

  • On my knees, praying earnestly for God to take my stresses and give me a clear mind, a forgiving heart and a creative spirit so I can be who He wants me to be.
  • Bible open, being reminded of this Almighty Lord I serve, who is full of compassion, who made time for all who asked, He whose voice the winds and waves obeyed, He who fed 5,000 by first giving thanks.

So, what matters?

What Matters

What would you add to this list of what matters when the going gets tough and you find there’s not enough time for everything you want to do?


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Rachel Herweynen

Teaching Principal

Alive because of Jesus. My husband Cameron and I have the privilege of living and working in a remote indigenous community, our home, Gäwa on Elcho Island, Australia. What a joy to not only be principal and teacher but also granddaughter, mother, aunty, child and mother-in-law. Above all, always daughter of the King.

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