How do you re-energize when your schedule is overloaded, budget cuts are threatened, and students try your patience? Here are some suggestions from the general music forum.
Interact with other teachers
Share experiences with others in your district, school, or department.
“Ask how they’re coping with the mood in their schools, the various activities going on, citywide events, etc. Talking to colleagues from my building is excellent because we see the same kids. We can say, ‘Well, with kids like Larry, I use this line….’ At my district department meetings, I ask colleagues what’s going on in their schools: concerts, when they get rehearsals, scheduling. We share ideas. Sometimes it’s just confirmation that the craziness is not just at my school!”
“It’s great to be reminded that I am not alone!”
Attend professional development activities
- Learning about teaching approaches and philosophies can be exciting. Conferences and workshops are inspiring.
- “You’ll meet colleagues, learn new ideas, and feel excited about your job again.”
- “I go to my MENC conferences every year. I get to reconnect with college friends, interact with people who do what I do, meet master teachers, and get free stuff at the booths. I get fantastic new ideas I can get excited about and run back and teach the next week, which in turn gets my kids excited. I hear amazing groups and spend time talking about the issues facing my classroom, not the math curriculum or reading at grade level.”
- “At conferences, you meet music teachers from all over. You’re surrounded by people who do just what you do! You come back loaded with ideas to use.”
- Commenting on brain-based teaching workshops: “Learning about why my 6th graders are completely off the chain at 1 p.m. helped me adjust my methods and made a huge difference for all of us. It really has re-energized my teaching.”
- Some topics for workshops:
o Music Learning Theory
o Childhood musical development
o Brain-based teaching
- The funds don’t have come from your pocket. Many school districts have a budget for professional development. Just show how attending a workshop, conference, or class can benefit your teaching, your students, and the district. Apply early while there’s still money left in the professional development budget.
- If there’s no money available, “spend a day here or there observing another teacher who uses a particular teaching approach you’re interested in.” Or take a professional in-service day to observe a highly skilled music teacher for inspiration.
- Many conferences and workshops offer graduate credit as well.
Make time for yourself and your family
Get your mind off work by having fun with family and friends—go out to dinner, stay in and talk or play games, go for a hike, visit a museum.
Pursue other interests—read a book, pursue a hobby, practice yoga, exercise, play a sport. These will help you relax and get rid of stress.
“When I keep work and home/personal life separate, my family and I are much happier. I can give my family and myself quality time when I’m at home, and I also have the energy to give my best when I’m at school.”
Read Part 2.
—Linda C. Brown, May 19, 2010, © MENC: The National Association for Music Education (menc.org)