New Teacher Mid Year Self CheckNov 30, 2021
If you are a new teacher, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed at this point in the year. With winter break coming up and concerts to get ready for and grades to finish, teachers often feel just as overwhelmed, if not more than, the students. If that describes you, I suggest sitting down in any free/quiet time you have to do a self check. You could do this during your commute, while you’re eating lunch, or as a meditative activity before you go to bed. The important thing is that you purposely carve out time for yourself so you can really tune in to your state of being. I hope you find these questions helpful.
What am I worried about right now?
This question may seem like it could have an obvious answer. “Concerts!” “Grades!” “That one parent email that I still haven’t responded to!” I encourage you to really sit with this question for a little bit. If you go deeper than the surface level, you may find that your answer might be different. When I sit with this question, I usually find that my surface level stresses are symptoms of deeper worries. If you’re worried about a concert coming up, you might find that your deep concern is “I’m afraid my students aren’t ready because I haven’t prepared them enough.” (If this is your concern, I guarantee that you’re doing a great job, your students love you, and your concert is going to be great!)
What do I actually need to complete today?
My to-do list is always a mile long. That being said, I very rarely (if ever) actually complete everything on my to-do list in a day. That’s because I always write things that aren’t due that day, and I include things that need to be done way later on, like the end of the week or the end of the term. When I see my never ending list, I often get overwhelmed. If you’re the same way, take a moment and ask yourself what needs done today? Is there anything on your list that you could put off for a little while to allow yourself time to breathe? Chances are, you can break up your to-do list into “do/due today” and “can be done later.”
What will happen if I don’t finish this?
For me, I often think in worst-case scenarios. For example, I missed both picture days at my school this year, the first day for a doctor’s appointment and the retake day because of scheduling. When that happened, I felt myself going into panic mode. What would happen if I wasn’t included in the yearbook? Would my administration be upset? Would students look back on this yearbook in many years from now and forget my existence? It was definitely a dramatic spiral.
But, once I calmed myself down, I thought realistically. The worst thing that would happen would be that my picture wouldn’t be included in the yearbook. Honestly, not a huge deal! Do this thought exercise for yourself. Whatever is stressing you out the most right now, ask yourself “What will realistically happen if ______?” I guarantee the realistic outcome is not the same as the worst-case scenario, and is likely far more manageable.
How am I doing?
We always ask other people “How are you?” But I find that we hardly ever ask ourselves that question. This time of year, I think it is important to ask ourselves and be honest. If you’re not doing okay, be honest with yourself. If you realize that you’re doing better than you thought, great! This question is a great one to really evaluate your situation. Do you enjoy your school? How is your workload? How do your coworkers and administration make you feel? How is your work-life balance? Sometimes these can be tough questions, but it is incredibly important for you to be honest with yourself.
I want to wish all new teachers out there the most restful winter break, and I hope you all have an even more successful second half of the school year. We here at That Music Teacher are here to help you every step of the way! After doing your self check, be sure to come back here to find resources to make the rest of your year go smoothly. Need some extra support? Be sure to join the General Music Mastermind, a free Facebook group for music teachers to collaborate and share ideas!