Tips for Tired Teachers
Diary submitted by Gemma J. Valencia
How should you manage your time between classes and outside of work to improve your energy levels?
Whether it is EFL or other areas of expertise, teaching is a demanding career choice. It is comprised of not only physical time spent with students in a classroom, but also lesson preparation, resource-hunting online, observations of peers, keeping up to date with teaching approaches and exam boards, as well as marking and much more. From my own experience, EFL has presented additional challenges that I had not previously encountered in other teaching roles I have undertaken. To be more specific, one to one classes demand complete concentration from the teacher for 40 minutes, especially in exam preparation classes where note-taking and teacher-participation in conversation is required simultaneously. Through good time management, regular physical activity and flexibility, I have managed to stem the tiredness that can accompany the intensity of this work.
EFL teachers must remember not to define themselves only as EFL teachers. Whilst our schedules can be hectic, we must prioritise down-time. The best way to do this is to set boundaries between work and home. On unavoidable occasions where work, such as marking or lesson planning, needs to be done at home, you should set a time limit. For example, if you finished work at 5pm, do not let yourself work beyond 7pm at home. In addition to this, organisation and a strictly adhered to routine is key. If you know that you are going to have a week of late-shifts, put aside time on the weekend for meal preparation for the week. Benefits will be reaped by both teachers and students, as the resulting increased levels of energy and mood will help bring a renewed enthusiasm to your classes, assisting with maintaining student motivation.
A final point to be made on how to improve energy levels, is to be active. Through cycling to and from work every day I experience the positive effects of endorphins from exercise. It also allows me to focus my mind before work, clear it after, and to take enjoyment from something other than my job. I am unable to check my emails. I am not required to hold a conversation. It is time reserved solely for me. Moreover, as teachers we will spend a lot of our time behind a desk, sitting down. Regular activity beats away the sluggishness of lack of movement, reviving our energy levels and ultimately, with such a demand for concentration in all classes, this is an EFL teacher’s best weapon.