October is one of the hardest months of the year. The honeymoon period is over. The kids start to push back. This year is especially difficult (at least in New York City) because it starts with five full weeks of school before a day off. In light of the season, I’m going to share a strategy that’s helped me get through so many of my tough days.
I remember very clearly one day during my first year of teaching when, after a very long day capped with a horrendous final period, I had one singular thought: This is unsustainable. I was exhausted, stressed, and worn down—and it wasn’t even winter break yet. I remember thinking I couldn’t make it through the winter, let alone through June.
That night, though, I was put in touch with a veteran teacher through a friend of mine who gave me some advice that probably saved my teaching career. We spoke for about 2 hours, and she gave me a lot of ideas about how to add structure to the classroom and build relationships with students. About how to make my classroom about learning and not about disciplining. What I remember, though, is a piece of mental health advice.