12 of the Best Tips for Surviving the School Year

I recently came across a blog post by Matt at Digital Divide & Conquer that gave some funny (yet insightful) tips for surviving another year of teaching. It inspired me, so I've decided to get caught up on blogging (I've been totally swamped with back to school preparation) and document my own goals based on his list. Here goes...

 Stay Out of the Teacher's Lounge
Why is this important? 
According to Matt, there's a gravitational pull dragging you toward the food.
At my school?


Um, yeah. It's a problem.
I always have the best of intentions, but then I see the food and I'm sucked in.

Find Your Niche
Matt says it's important to find how you can help others to make yourself a valuable resource.
At my school, I have been asked to be the team leader for the third year in a row. I don't really mind, since I have THE MOST AWESOME fifth grade team EVER! Each of us has a set of unique skills that allows us to contribute to the group. We had a meeting the other day and before I really even had to delegate tasks to the group, each teacher already kind of knew what they would be best at.
 We have Theresa (A.K.A. The Power Point Wizard) - She  can throw together a fun PowerPoint in no time flat. It took me until two months ago to actually learn how to use PowerPoint. Seriously. She's currently working on our First Day Procedures Powerpoint. It's super cute and will really be a help as we review everything students need to know for fifth grade.
We have Paula (A.K.A. Newsletter Blurbs Editor) - She did such a great job putting together our monthly newsletters last year that it was a no brainer to ask her to do so again! She is awesome at remembering to type it up, get it printed, and file it in the office. I tend to forget it's even a new month! Hahahaha!
We have Cynthia (A.K.A. Field Trip Specialist) - She may not LIKE the hassle of organizing field trips, but she sees the value in taking kids on valuable learning experiences outside of the classroom. She already has an idea for visiting Fort Donelson in October. Whoo hoo!
And then there's me (A.K.A. Queen of Schedules) - Sure, I'm creative. 
I know how to "pretty things up" when it comes to making a nice handout. I can take decent pictures. 
I also have a lot of ideas to integrate technology. I'm helpful. I'm rather O.C.D. as well. 
Which leads to my most valuable contribution to our team.

I make schedules. 
Lots and lots and LOTS of schedules.

Because we rotate students through all of our rooms, anytime there is a delay, early release, assembly, special guest, pictures day, standardized testing, or change in temperature (kidding) I have to change our schedules around so no one completely loses instructional time with a class.

Be Switzerland
Matt says to stay out of workplace conflict.
My motto?
Not my circus, not my monkeys.
While I am certainly friendly at school, when someone wants to pull me into their negativity I try my best to stay out of it. This year I'm also going to try my best NOT to air my own frustrations.

Leave School Emails at School 
Last year I struggled with this. I had my emails sent to my phone and I would end up reading them all evening. This was especially bad when it was a complaint from a parent. It would upset me and I would be unable to relax. Finally I removed my work email from my phone. That helped. Doing it again this year.At the end of the day, I'm done. Until 6:00 the next morning.

 Read A Professional Development Book That Interests You
Matt says that CHOOSING a professional development book will interest you more than being forced to read one by an administrator. Last year at our school we did a book study on Explicit Direct Instruction. I admit to dreading having to read each chapter by a deadline. I'm planning to read something of my own choosing this year. Something that I think will specifically help ME in MY classroom. Now to find a good book...
In addition to reading something that will help me in my classroom, I plan to try to read at least one book each nine weeks FOR PLEASURE alone. Just something I'm interested in reading.

Join/Start An Online Group for Educators
Wow, it feels good to know I've already completed one thing on the list!
I spent the summer trying to connect with other teachers online through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It is AMAZING how much I have learned. And I feel like I have a place to go for help when I can't seem to figure something out. 

 Figure Out What Candy Your Teammates Like
 Again, DONE.
Theresa - Tootsie Rolls
Paula - Dark Chocolate
Cynthia - Skittles
Better yet, find out your colleagues' favorite beverage (non-alchoholic, of course). 
Theresa - Diet Coke
Paula - Coke
Cynthia - Sprite
Yeah, we aren't coffee drinkers. Crazy, right?
In addition, I also keep a bottle of TUMS in my drawer. 
Sometimes sugar and caffeine just can't solve the problem.

Put Together a Survival Kit
 Matt cautions us to prepare for "all those little things that you don't know when you'll need".
My survival kit has snacks, TUMS, Advil, chap-stick, facial powder, lotion, band-aids, contact solution, an extra set of shoes, a light jacket, feminine products, and a nail file.
I'm sure there will still be something else I need at one point, but at least I feel like I'm on the right track.

If You Wear White, Skip Coffee That Day
 Um, I avoid wearing white ALL days. 
I'm too clumsy and I end up with something on my clothes every day!
Well, at least it's not THAT bad.

Always Have a Set of Back-Up Clothes
 Matt suggests that an extra set of clothes is necessary. I've never done this. I have an extra sweater in case I get cold or I forget my jacket on a colder day. But I've never had enough of a problem that I required a complete change of clothes. BUT, I have a friend who LITERALLY split her pants at the beginning of the day and had to rush back home for a new pair during school. Not cool. So maybe there is something to this. One thing I always do is bring a set of comfortable flats on days I dare to wear a pair of cute high heels. Yeah, what am I thinking wearing heels to school?!? They may be cute, but they are NOT comfortable. But sometimes I can't help but wear them to complete my outfit!
No, I do NOT always dress as Ms. Frizzle. Just on Book Character Day.

Be Nice or Do Something Nice For Someone
It's the golden rule.
Treat others the way you'd like to be treated.
Who doesn't want to hear a nice compliment, get a little surprise, or have some help on a rough day?
Try it.
I tend to be pretty shy. It makes me seem stand-offish. When I walk into a room, I worry that I won't have someone to sit next to. Silly, I know. But I bet there are others who feel the same way. I'm planning to start more conversations. Offer more smiles. Show more kindness. And if someone asks for volunteers, I will do whatever I can.
As long as it doesn't involve singing. :)

Go Home
It seems simple, but we all know it isn't.
There is always one more quiz to grade. One more email to respond to. One more paper to file. One more lesson to plan. One more phone call to make.
Well, I am determined to do better this year. 
We have staff meetings on Thursday afternoons. Other than that day, I plan to head out the door within 30 minutes after dismissal. Even if I have to "sneak" passed a few rooms so I don't get pulled into a long discussion.

I really AM glad that I came across Matt's post. It made me reflect on how I can better survive the year without going crazy. His list of tips gave me a starting point. A way to help manage the many challenges of being a teacher. I really wish I had read it back when I started teaching 9 years ago. It would have saved me a lot of sleepless nights.
So, what tips do YOU have for surviving this school year without losing your mind?
I'd love to add them to my list. :)

P.S. I have to confess that Matt's blog post had the funniest animated GIFs with each of his tips, so I decided to try the same thing on my blog. It was fun! Hope you enjoyed them.


  1. Matt is HILARIOUS and one my most favoritest bloggers in the whole bloggy world! Loved reading your tips and your gifs are PERFECT! I have had to run home many times...and I even have clothes, shoes, slippers, and jackets in my closet. No seriously...it looks like I live at school. Lol!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. I also enjoy reading Matt's posts. I think I DO live at school. Lol.


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