Spring break: rest and recharge
It has been a while since I posted, (though it's consistently been on my mind). Spring break just started for Parkway Schools, giving students time to enjoy the start of a new season and teachers some time to carefully examine the strengths and weaknesses of their classes.
I teach level 3 intermediate students. However, there's never a one-size fits all approach. (Just like teaching any class, students have their own unique struggles--and even more so, perhaps, because they're coming from different countries.)
While one student that tests into the upper-intermediate level has very strong writing skills, his or her listening and speaking may not be as strong as a student in the same level whose English is as good as my own but who struggles to conjugate irregular past-tense verbs and future verb tenses.
It doesn't mean they do not belong in the same level. In fact, a lower level class would leave them feeling bored and frustrated. Yet, I still haven't quite figured out how to tailor my classroom to the few students who have some extra struggles. Creating a multi-level classroom can be tricky, and it's something I'm hoping to master as time goes on.
On top of my work, which I'll talk more about later, there is still so much planning to do, trips coming up, and extra side projects. It's difficult to not feel overwhelmed by it all--so much to the point that I start to lose track of everything and kind of shut down.
As hard as it is for me to do, because most of the time, I would categorize myself as having a type A personality, I think it's important to take a break (from everything--if you can. AND, if you can't, take some small breaks for yourself every day.) It is NOT selfish to take time for yourself, turn off your phone, and just say NO.
In addition, I think it helps you come back stronger to your work and your life.
Doing Less May Help Achieve More
I always know when I need a break from work. I'm starting to get irritable and/or I've lost a lot of my flare and creativity. (Particularly if I've been standing for 3 hours or working on a writing assignment that needs more research but can't be completed in one day.)
It just makes sense. People who don't take breaks from their schedules get exhausted (mentally and physically). And signs that you need a break from work might include things like difficulty concentrating, cynicism about work, getting sick more frequently, lack of energy, and sleep disturbances. On top of that, some people may feel that actually preparing to take time off and making up that missed time are even more stressful than just staying on the job.
"Breaks can replenish the psychological costs associated with working hard, improve work performance, and boost energy," notes Psychology Today contributors Amanda Conlin and Larissa Barber.
Even if you can't take a full-blown vacation, taking a few small breaks a day from your job is important--not just for your health, but for productivity.
"Counter to intuition, taking breaks at work may actually boost performance."
However, the article adds that not all breaks are created equal. For instance, looking at nature is likely to replenish energy while drinking a caffeinated beverage or venting about a work problem is more likely to deplete it.
How Should You Take a Break?
The way you spend your break is also really important--whether it's 10 minute breaks during work or a full-blown vacation.
If you're just taking 10 or 15, here are a few relaxing ways to spend a break.
Read a book
Take a walk
Take a power nap
Do some of a workout
Listen to some music
If you're taking some time off (whether going somewhere or staying home), try some of these tips.
Unplug from work (don't check work emails, texts or calls until you get back home.)
Bring a journal
Have a relaxed mindset
Be a bit more spontaneous and go with the flow
Plan in Advance
I can't say how happy I am that the older I've gotten, the more I plan. Planning in advance (as dorky as it sounds), is something I really look forward to. (And it doesn't mean you're not spontaneous, or you can't randomly go out when you want to. However, set rules that you count on allow you to do more fun things when possible.)
I always make my lesson plans at the start of the week. Usually, I have to alter them to an extent, but fortunately, it means I can fall back on them if something happens. (Like if I get sick and need a sub; if something comes up, and I need someone to teach for me; if I have a doctor's appointment, etc.)
In addition, somewhat related to planning, I research freelance assignments in advance of the actual deadline. (Not just because I am interested in these kinds of subjects, but because I know another task will get in the way and prevent me from doing it.)
Give Yourself a Break
You're not going to be able to do everything, no matter how hard you try. And unfortunately, while you don't need to make enemies, because of this, you can't be everybody's friend.
You're not omnipresent.
It's OK to say no. It's OK to miss an event. It's OK to turn down an assignment.
As long as you're doing your best, that's what's important.