Whoever you are and wherever you are – somewhere along your journey, you will have that bad day! We teach humans and our products can be unpredictable and use up all our energy and resources. Things may be going swimmingly most days and suddenly, on one particular day, things have gone pear shaped!
You are usually left feeling tense and tearful as well as being shattered and exhausted especially as the Autumn term digs in and half term seems a long, long way away.
Relax – bad days happen to all of us ! It is what we do to turn things around and how we do it, that makes us masters of our own destiny. The trick is to avoid having too many of them!
Teaching –while it is one of the most honourable and highly respected professions in the world, is a hard career! We are watched by at least 30 pupils, (more in secondary schools) every day and expected to be always happy and smiling, spinning several plates and getting on with the task of teaching and learning.
Usually we are! However, it maybe that one day, that child who has been challenging you every day while you have been trying to use all the positive strategies- just sets you off. Or it may be that a carefully planned lesson, where you have made what you think are excellent resources, hasn’t gone to plan as expected.
Remember you are the consummate professional. Try not to show the children and fellow staff, unless they are people you trust, that you are tense and not in control of your usual self.
The children are getting rowdier in class and not following instructions and no matter what you do, the pupils are just not listening. By mid-September, the honeymoon period is over and it is excellent behaviour management and focused, targeted teaching and learning that seals the deal!
It maybe that a parent has written a complaint or the everyday politics at school (and believe it or not – there is) has just been too much! Finally, a bad weekend at home or even a very busy weekend where you haven’t rested and relaxed can impact your day or week at school. If that bad day happens – stay calm and focused.
Take a break and give the children something quiet to do while you collect yourself. If it is really bad and you are going to disintegrate, ask a child or a fellow colleague to get some support. However, try to develop your own mechanisms for managing and coping.
At break and lunch – make sure you have a proper lunch and go out for a breath of fresh air. Use this time to reflect deeply about why you are having a bad day. If it is a parent complaint, think about what has happened and why that parent may be upset.
Talk it though with a parallel teacher and senior leaders and take steps to solve the issue. Speak to them first and create an email trail explaining the matter and be reflective. Above all, ensure the next lesson goes well in class so that the whole day is not ruined for you and the children. After school, prepare to leave early. You have had a bad day – go home and remedy yourself. You need to get into a better frame of mind and you can do this by giving yourself time.
Make sure your lessons and resources are prepared for the next day and mark any books quickly. This alleviates stress and makes you ready and prepared to have a good day the next day. However, this depends on the kind of day you had. Sometimes it is okay to leave the books for the next day- as it is no point pushing yourself when you are not in the mood.
Maintain a cool, calm and collected demeanour and take measured steps to solve the matter and turn your day into a positive one.
When you get home, reflect deeply on the events of the day. Run yourself a bath and relax with whatever helps you. Mine is listening to music. Unpick what happened! What was the trigger and how are you going to sort it out? Maintain a solution focused approach. Think about what you are going to do to turn things around. Will it mean re-teaching that lesson in a different way? Also, think about having a conversation with that challenging child and revaluating the strategies used with them.
Remember, you are the consummate professional- define the steps you are going to take to solve the situation and turn it into a positive one. If you are a senior leader having that bad day – it can be worse as not only are the children watching you, so are the staff and they are waiting for you to “crack”. It doesn’t matter.
Your day could be ruined by a member of staff being rude or not doing something you have asked them to do. Take time to reflect and address your plan of action. Nobody likes having those “difficult conversations” but unfortunately, you are duty bound and paid to do so. Rise above any politics (yup every school and organization has it) and ensure every action is integrity led. Have the “difficult conversation” the next day and follow it up by email.
Be measured in everything that you do. As long as you do the job well and with compassion, humility and integrity, who cares what anyone else thinks. Whether you are a teacher or a senior leader, talk to loved ones and good friends who will also tell you the truth if you are wrong and give you honest and sometimes, that “hard to take advice”. Many of them may have nothing to do with teaching but will give
sound advice. Don’t spend too long dwelling on your bad day as at times, overthinking can make things worse. SWITCH OFF and enjoy the time. Get to bed early so you are refreshed and relaxed.
Get into work early and put those solution steps into action and you will be able to conquer the world again. After all, isn’t that what we teachers do on a daily basis anyway!
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