I recently had the extremely good fortune to attend a mentorship day in our school district. For several years now we have operated a mentorship program for first and second year teachers in partnership with the local branch of the Alberta Teachers Association. It is an amazing thing, and likely is a key factor in our district having a 63% teacher retention rate, which is second in the province!
Our recent mentorship day was a 'take a break and re-assess' day, where approximately 32 first and second year teachers and their mentor teachers spent the day working with several of our Central Office administration. Half the day was spent reviewing topics such as work-life balance, and stress management, assessment, and communicating with parents. The afternoon was collaborative planning time for the mentorship partnerships.
During the work-life balance portion of the day, the beginning teachers were asked what types of events have caused them stress this year. The lists were lengthy, as you might expect, with many of the usual suspects. Conflict, time management, students, parents, etc. are all sources of stress for beginning teachers, just as they can be for veteran teachers as well. It was mildly cathartic for me to look at that long list, and to think about stress triggers.
The ensuing discussion about how to attend to these sources of stress was interesting, and I hope helpful! Many strategies for dealing with stress were shared. Some important messages that needed to be affirmed, such as "Make sure you strive for balance" and "Don't feel pressured - it is OK to say no!", were restated. A lot of talk about priorities took place, and looking back I wish I would have had someone talk to me about priorities when I was starting out..
The discussion about the importance of balance in life reminded me of a TEDx talk I viewed online recently. Author Nigel Marsh spoke on ways to achieve balance in life, and stressed the importance of the small things. Fitness is good, but being fitter and working 14 hours a day is still being out of balance! It is the little things, like going to the park with your children, that are the things that count. While it may be easier said than done, I think it very important to look for opportunities like that! I learned that lesson from my wife and children, and continually seek to find ways to make their day. Who knew the simple act of going into work a bit later once in a while, and driving them to school, could mean so much to them? I'm developing a HUGE fondness for those little things...I've realized they mean a great deal to me too!
If you have 10 minutes, watch the video below. I hope you enjoy it, and find value in it, as much as I did: