Thursday, August 18, 2016

Non-teaching Tips for First Year Theatre Teachers



Congratulations!  You got the job!  Your dream job!  You've been through new teacher orientation, staff development on your campus, and met a ton of new people.  Your students will be walking through those doors in just a few days.  You've been trained on teaching techniques, and behavior techniques.  Your passion for theatre runs in your veins.  You're so ready!

Returning teachers: finish your fruity, frozen drink, put away the swimsuit and floaties, and try to find your school ID badge.  It's time to inspire a new group of shiny students!  These tips could work for us returners, too.  As I was drafting this post, I realized that these tips are good reminders for myself, as well. We know that the day-to-day can be really hectic with all that we do.  It's good to step back and take it all in, and take care of ourselves.

The following are tips for new (and old!) teachers that have nothing to do with instruction, because let's face it: instruction only covers a percentage of what we do every day.

1. Buy a large, long-lasting water bottle.  I have a 32 oz bottle that I refill throughout my day.  Staying hydrated helps fight fatigue, headaches, and the grumps.

2. Train yourself to use the bathroom once a day.  I'm not kidding.  Last year, I had a morning conference, so between 11:20 and 5:30 I had to sprint to the bathroom if I had to go.  Those teacher memes about the bathroom are not jokes.  They are true.

3. Make sure you have a microwave and refrigerator near your room/black box/office/auditorium.  Lunch is precious, precious time and you don't want to waste it walking across campus to the lunch room.

4.  On that note: bring a lunch and sit down and eat it.  I mean it!  Preferably with other adults with whom you can engage in an adult conversation with.  Fellow middle school teachers: trust me on this.  You need a break from adolescents in your day, no matter how much you may enjoy them.  (Confession: sometimes I don't have food to bring, or I didn't have time to pack a lunch, so I get a tray in the cafeteria.  Some schools have a great lunch program; others do not.  Investigate first before it's too late!)  Also, keep plastic silverware, plates, and paper towels in your office.

5.  Don't wear your school shirt to happy hour on Fridays.

6. Keep healthy snacks in your office/desk.  Our days are long, and lunch times vary.  Our last lunch doesn't start until 12:20.  I would DIE if I had to wait that long between breakfast and lunch.  (for some reason I can make it from 11:30am-8pm with rehearsal and a workout before I get hungry.  Go figure.)

7.  Have instant coffee/a Keurig/tea.  I think scientific studies have been done that indicate humans need a siesta in the afternoon.  That's why it's the "afternoon slump".  Mine always hit during 6th period, with three classes, rehearsal, and a workout to go.  Caffeine in any amount is very helpful.

8.  Attend as many meetings on campus as you can.  Be visable.  Work with other teachers on campus.  Don't hide away and be forgotten.  Attend staff parties and happy hours.  Do Secret Santa at least one year.  Treat the office staff like queens (or kings), give treats to your custodians.  Participate in a pep rally.  Do the "non-theatre" fun stuff on your campus.  You are not an island; you are a part of a community.

9. SLEEP.  I confess that this is something I struggle with during the school year, and I LOVE sleeping.  I slept a lot this summer and I don't regret it.  My body needed it.  I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere sleep studies have shown that you can't "store" up sleep that you missed, but man it sure feels good!  One of my goals this year is to go to bed at a certain hour (especially during my peak running training).  It's so hard to multitask and not be grumpy when your body is lacking sleep.  Lack of sleep also leads to missed workouts and bad food choices, which leads me to...

10.  Make healthy food choices.  I'm not saying you should do a Whole 30 or even count calories.  Eat more fruit instead of processed food.  Avoid fast food on those evenings when you are just bone tired.  Mental exhaustion feels like physical exhaustion, but you can still muster up the energy to eat better to keep your body functioning the way it should.  Without that, how can you be there for your students?  Along those lines, schools and teacher's lounges are filled with junkie goodies.  For example, the first day of training we had candy scattered on our tables.  Tomorrow, the PTA is providing donuts.  (YUM!  You know I'm going to eat one, but the key here is ONE.)  It's ok to say no to free junk food.

The bottom line is: Take care of yourself.  We give so much to our students (it's THE reason why we go to work every day).  It's so easy to forget about taking care of yourself in this profession.  But, if we teachers don't take care of ourselves, how can we be at our best for our students?  Veteran teachers, I hope this was a helpful reminder for you, as well.

We have such an important job.  Do little things to make sure you are the best that you can be every day, from August to June!

It kind of feels like Christmas, doesn't it?  New school supplies, new clothes, new scripts, new faces.  Drink some night time tea and get to bed early, and have a GREAT school year!

Cheers,

Kasey

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