The Magic of the Happy Teacher List

Saturday, 12 November 2016

happy children and happy teacher in a kindergarten classroom

I had a perfect teaching day last week. Say what? 

Yup - you heard me - a perfect teaching day. I’m pretty sure I’ve NEVER said this before.

More often than not, I feel defeated by the high demands and a long to-do list that pulls and tugs at me throughout the day.

But on Wednesday of last week, I went home and actually said OUT LOUD that I’d had a perfect day.

Defining Perfect

Let me define what I mean by perfect, knowing full well there is no such thing.

It was a day where my vision of how I'd like things to go was in alignment with  the reality of what was.

You know that picture you see in your mind over the summer as you are getting ready for the school year and you imagine the possibility of what could be.  The one where you and the children dance through the day in seamless harmony.  The one that often fades by lunch on the first day of school.
So because this comes along, like never, I began thinking about what made it so “perfect.” 

I hadn’t tried anything new or groundbreaking, half my class was not out with the flu, nor was there any cosmic alignment of any sort (not that I knew of anyway). In fact, I could quickly rule out all extrinsic factors as the day ran pretty much like the others in terms of routines and lessons. And as for the children, they were the same adorable little beings I had left on Tuesday.  

So that left only me.  

What was different about me as I walked through that door on Wednesday morning?  

The Happy Teacher List

My guess is that it had something to do with the magic of a lesser known checklist that I ignore all too often.  Let's call it the "Happy Teacher List." 

You see, many years ago I read a book entitled, Buddha Never Raised Kids and Jesus Didn't Drive Carpool by Vickie Falcone. It was a parenting book that suggested mothers create a “Happy Mommy List” to help them get clear about what they needed so they could then in turn care for others. 

Buddha Never Raised Kids and Jesus Didn't Carpool

While I have never actually made a “Happy Teacher List,” the whole “put on your life mask first” concept has always stayed with me and I’d venture to guess that on that “perfect day” all the boxes on my "Happy Teacher List" were checked.  

It was November. Halloween and parent conferences had just ended. Life had settled down a bit. The day felt lighter, I felt centered, and I was able to be completely present with the children.  There was an energy between us that just felt right and if I was looking for data to support this, I could measure it by the increase in knee hugs that I received on that day. 

Oftentimes, teachers (myself included) want to blame student behavior on a full moon or all the Halloween candy they ate the day before.  

But I really think it has a lot more to do with us than we want to admit (like maybe all the Halloween candy that we ate the day before!).  

It’s about stepping back and asking ourselves, “What’s really going on here?” It’s about taking our own temperatures to see if our needs are being met.

Creating a Teacher Self-Care Checklist

So in my attempt to capture, bottle, and reenact this “perfect day,” I got curious about what would actually be on that teacher self-care checklist if it were actually written down.

Here's what I came up with.

8 things on my happy teacher checklist

When I look at it, it seems so simple. 

Yet, there's that OTHER list, you know the one, with the big "TO DO" at the top that constantly competes with it for the 10:00 bedtime.  

But now that it's written down, I'm going to find a prominent place for it and give it a voice.  

I'm going to make a more conscious effort to check those boxes because it's not only good for me, but my students as well. 
So, what's on your list? What are your teacher life must-do's?

Thanks for stopping by!


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