As childcare professionals, sometimes we feel like we are a character in the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray wakes up every morning to the exact same day over and over and over again. As educators, we know that repetition can be good for children, but we also know it can get “old” and even monotonous for us as educators if we don’t mix it up every once in a while. To avoid fatigue and that feeling of “bleh” that we sometimes go through when we have been doing the same thing over and over, we need to be aware of it and be ahead of it!
5 ways to avoid fatigue and repetition in your program
1. Don’t do this alone
If you are someone who’s been doing this for a long time, then you probably have a really good rhythm and can do this whole educator gig in your sleep. While that is impressive, it’s not necessarily a good thing. Consider if what you are doing is relevant to your children and if they are truly enjoying what they are learning about. Bounce your ideas off a colleague. Ask what is working in their room, and consider collaborating with other staff. It’s nice to set time aside to meet with someone who teaches a similar age group and even plan together. Maybe once a week or even just once a month, plan to have lunch together and have a “dream session.” You can look up activities together on wonderful databases, such as HiMama Activities.
There are times when some educators get it wrong. They keep their awesome ideas to themselves instead of sharing something they came up with or got from somewhere else. As educators, we should always be each other’s cheerleaders. Encourage each other, share your ideas, and even offer to assist with someone’s lesson if you’re doing it anyway! Be happy to share!
2. Do your homework
If you stick to the same thing each and every year, then you will get bored and lose passion for what you’re doing. It’s important that as educators we are also learners. So, subscribe to sources that have the latest trends in education and be learning about what others are doing. Research, watch Ted talks, read blogs (like this one! Good job!), and even consider visiting other centers with good reputations to see what they are doing.
It’s important to always be self-evaluating. Ask questions like, “Am I stuck?” “Do my students seem happy?” “Should I change anything?” If you’re really brave, ask a colleague or your supervisor where they think you may need to “freshen up” your classroom. Sometimes we have “blind spots” that we can’t see where we could benefit from a change. But do yourself a favor- don’t take it personally when they give a suggestion. Take it as positive criticism and consider what they have to say. You’ll be a better educator for it, and you’ll have a new motivation build up inside you to do better!
3. Attend a conference
I understand that not everyone has this option, but if you’re able to, even if it’s a long weekend, try to get away! Go somewhere that you can have a mixture of downtime and learning. Maybe there’s an educator conference in your town or in driving distance. Maybe there’s even a virtual conference you can attend but still take off a few days to reflect and dream. As educators, we need to make sure we are in a good headspace and are getting refreshed.
It’s important that we do both resting and learning if possible. If we just overload our schedule into a one-day conference and then go right to work the next day, you will most likely feel even more overwhelmed. Even in-service days, while helpful and required, are not always the most refreshing. Sometimes you just need to be off-campus somewhere away. Even if you don’t have money in your budget to attend a conference away somewhere, find a virtual conference, and see if you can take a day off from work on a Friday where you can watch the conference at a coffee shop or at the mall in a lobby somewhere! Be creative and treat yourself to great coffee, lots of breaks, and time to reflect. If you’re able to go with a coworker, even better! This will allow you to dream together!
Something one of my former bosses used to say is, “If you don’t debrief the event, then it never happened.” So take time to write down what you learned from the conference and what action steps you plan to implement. Then, do those things! Gather a few friends and share what you learned. Create accountability and collaboration with your team.
4. Try something new
When we get into a routine, it can be difficult to get away from that. Allow yourself to try something new, even if you fail! For example, if you’ve always taught letter recognition the same way with the same curriculum for years and years, consider doing it in a different way. Instead of showing the letter and having them write the letter, do something more play-based like a letter dig! This allows for sensory play while also finding letters. Fun activities like this can be found in the HiMama activity database.
Weekly themed activities are sent via email so you just have to read it, gather the materials, and try it! They are each accompanied by specific learning outcomes. Someone has already done the hard part for you, so just allow yourself to come out of your comfort zone and try something fresh and new.
5. Remind yourself why you do what you do
It is so easy to get away from the calling that was placed on your life. Especially over the last few years, many educators have questioned why they chose this path. It has been hard, and educators have faced more adversity than they ever imagined. Yet, you still show up. You still do what you were created to do!
Every once in a while, it’s good to be reminded of why you chose this path. Take some time to sit down and write down your vision statement. Answer the following question: Why did you choose educator as your career pathway and what legacy do you hope to leave behind for the next generation of educators? However you answer that question is your vision statement. Here’s mine: “I chose to teach so that children can see themselves the way I see them- wonderful, complex, and amazing. I hope that they will get a glimpse of their potential and leave my class knowing they can do anything they set their minds to.” Type this vision statement up and put it somewhere you see regularly. Be sure to keep this in front of you on the hardest of days and the most joyous of days.
We need educators like you. This has not been an easy road. We are tired, and we are all in need of a “pick me up.” To avoid losing who you are, put some of these things into practice right away. It may not happen overnight, but you are worth the try! You are human, so of course, you will be tired on some days. But don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut where you question why you are doing this amazing calling. Not everyone can do it, but YOU ARE, and YOU CAN. You’ve got this!