5 Ways Teaching is Like the Beach

Every year my family spends some time at one of the best beaches in Australia. As I sat there last holiday, I couldn’t help but think - teaching really is like the beach!

 
5 Ways Teaching is Like the Beach. A look at how you can thrive and enjoy teaching - like the beach - and take care of yourself at the same time. A Galarious Goods blog post.
 

1. Unpredictable

You can plan as much as you like at the beach, but you never quite know what that wave might do or whether those stingers will drift towards you. Often you’ve got to stop, look around, assess the conditions again and then decide what to do next.

Teaching is very much like that. All the carefully written plans can easily be derailed - by an incident in the playground or an unexpected admin visit; by a happy side discovery or by the understanding that the perfect lesson on paper just isn’t translating into the real classroom.

That’s when we need to stop and assess - do we push on or do we take a new path? Do we accept the new lessons we learn and return to the other lessons at another time? Or regroup and look for a new path to where we want to go.

2. Non-Stop

I’m not a big ocean swimmer, but I love sitting near the water just watching the waves roll in and in and in again. It’s never ending, which is great on the sand - but not so much fun if you’re caught in a rough patch of surf.

Teaching is non-stop as well. Even before students come into our classrooms, we’re on the go - preparing for the day to come. When they’re there, we’re constantly ‘on’ - teaching and assisting and learning more about our students and assessing. Wave after wave of something else to do.

Sometimes we need to see if we can step out of it and take a break, especially if the sea is a bit rough. See if you can combine your class with another and take a moment to share the load with a colleague. Ask if you can observe another teacher while they teach, take the moment to learn from someone else. Or take a few moments at the end of the day to reflect on where you’ve done really well. Let the ocean of teaching go on away from you for a moment before you splash back in.

 
5 Ways Teaching is Like the Beach. A look at how you can thrive and enjoy teaching - like the beach - and take care of yourself at the same time. A Galarious Goods blog post.
 

3. It’s Occasionally Downright Scary

Although I’ve been knocked down pretty bad by waves, I’ve never found myself in true danger. But I’m well aware that the danger is there in the ocean. Rips, rocks and sharks are just a few of the dangers when you visit the beach - things to be aware of and prepared to deal with if they turn up.

There are times when teaching can also be scary. Our students may be carrying sad and disturbing histories. We may be dealing with violent situations. Our students may get hurt or try to hurt us. Or a stressful teaching situation might get too much for us.

Know where to turn for help, whether it’s for you or for your students. Know the procedures you need to follow when a student needs your help - needs you as the stable adult in their life. Know where you can go to find help for yourself and accept help when it is offered if you need it. Find your trusted people in the school - the teachers and other staff who’ll let you cry, pick you up, offer the good advice or keep the good candy jar for when you need it.

4. It’s a Great Place to Spend the Day (When You’re Prepared)

Whenever my family wants to go for a swim at the beach it takes us FOREVER to get ready. There’s sunscreen to apply on everyone, hats and sunglasses to find, shoes for the walk back on the path, swim nappies for the little one, a bag for collected treasures, water bottles to fill . . .

But once we’re at the swimming spot, we tend to forget all that planning and just enjoy the sand and the water. The planning makes the experience enjoyable.

While you can’t plan for everything (see the first heading here!), the same does apply to teaching. When we don’t plan at all, there’s a chance we’ll have a great lesson, but there’s also a pretty big chance that it will all fall apart. Planning lets us consider all the things we need to have better lessons.

Planning doesn’t have to be 10 pages of perfectly written work, though. It just requires thinking - reflecting on what works best with our students or what has worked in the past - and then working out which path to take. Those teachers (often more experienced) who don’t seem to plan? They’ve often got years of planning and teaching and reflecting under their belt and years of planning right there in their brains.

5. Beautiful

A few years ago, we took our holiday while I was heavily pregnant with my second child. I spent a LOT of time sitting on the sand, listening to the birds and the wind and the waves and admiring the beauty of the beach and the ocean. It brought such a sense of happiness to me.

Teaching can bring the same beauty and happiness as well. That moment when a child gets it. The lesson where everything goes just right. The drawing and letter written just for you because you’ve created a place where your students are happy. The beautiful moment when a former student - now an adult - thanks you for what you did.

Prepare for the ‘dangers’ of teaching - the unpredictability and the scary moments - take care of yourself. But don’t forget the beauty - it’s what makes it all worthwhile.

Classroom Organisation for the Unorganised

I wish I was one of those 'born organised' people. Sadly, I am not, and my classroom (or at least, my teacher desk) has definitely reflected my struggles to stay organised at times. But over the years I have learned a few things to help even the disorganised among us keep a more organised classroom.

 
 

1. Label Everything

Whether you use a label machine or some of the amazing looking labels you can find over at TpT, try to label everything. There's nothing better than being able to put your hands on what you need right away. Up the organisation by using colours in your labelling - you could divide your subjects by colour or your different year levels.

2. Discard When You Can

Your students have done their diagnostic tests, you've recorded their scores - do you still need to keep the test papers? Maybe you do - so file them away (more on that in a moment), but if there's no need to hold onto them, feel free to relegate them into the bin. This can apply to all sorts of papers - file or toss.

Taking a bigger look - what are you keeping in your classroom that you don't need anymore? Teachers can be champion hoarders, but consider whether you really need all your resources. Are you keeping (and not using) things that are easy to replace? Are you keeping things that you don't want to move if you get a new classroom or move to a new school? Less stuff makes it easier to keep things organised, so devote 30 minutes or so a week to removing some of the items you just don't need.

3. Get Help With Your Filing (And Other Stuff)

Have a lot of student papers which need filing? Get your students to help you. Students can definitely put their own work into folders and bring them back to you - you can even organise them to bring things back in alphabetical order.

Make sure your students also take responsibility for the classroom - it belongs to them as well. Shared work areas should be tidied before they move on to new activities and personal work areas should be tidied each day. Organisation is an important skill for studying and learning, so it's ok to bring it in as something you all learn together.

4. Provide Your Students With Personal Lists (and Make One For Yourself Too)

I spotted this one the other day and was amazed I hadn't thought of something so simple before! A new school student had a thin, laminated list of things they needed to bring to school each day attached to their bag. You can adapt this idea to steps which need to be done to organise each working area or desk. Students can refer to the lists before moving on to new activities or classes.

You can totally make one for yourself as well. What do you need to get done before class starts? Or what do you need to get done before you leave each day to make the next morning run smoothly? Even a list of things you can do when you have 5 minutes spare time can help you be more organised if that happens. Writing it down means you don't have to keep it in your memory and makes it more likely that things will regularly get done.

5. Set a Timer and Check Out Pinterest

It's totally ok to learn from our more naturally organised colleagues and other naturally organised people. Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes (so you don't get sucked into the Pinterest Vortex), create a new organisation board and get searching. Five minutes into a search on Pinterest and I'm totally making Ikea plans!

Remember not everything on Pinterest will work for you, so allow a cooling period before you go to the shops and buy a lot of expensive storage systems. Take one or two ideas and think about how they'd operate in your classroom. Think about whether you'll need to adapt them in anyway or how you can ensure you'll use them properly. Make sure you've got the best possible solutions for you!

 

I hope these tips can help you become more organised! Feel free to add your own organisation tips, posts or pictures in the comments!

You can save time with Back to School and other resources from Galarious Goods. You could spend the time with the photocopier . . . or you could spend it organising your classroom!!

 
 
 
 

Taking Care of Ourselves as Teachers

Teachers work hard. It's not unusual for teachers to put in long hours, to have teaching constantly on our minds and to put our work before other things. That's not always a good thing, though. Overwork can lead to exhaustion, illness and burnout - leaving us as less effective teachers.

So what can we do to combat the 'work yourself to the bone' attitude? How can we take care of ourselves as teachers?

 
 

1. Eat Proper Meals and Stay Hydrated

As a constant visitor to that box of fundraising chocolates, I'm the last person to tell you to cut out all chocolate. However, eating proper meals and staying well hydrated can definitely help when you're trying to avoid burnout. Think about scheduling time into your week to plan meals, cook ahead and freeze if you can, even planning what you're going to take for lunch each day can make the meal time planning easier. If you're bringing food to school for lunch, invest in a lunchbox that makes you happy - you're more likely to use it if you like looking at it!

A water bottle which makes you happy can also help you drink enough water - especially if you remember to use it. Use your break times to refill it, take it out on playground duties or supervisions, keep it in a place in your classroom where you're sure to remember it!

 
 

2.  Find Moments of Positivity

When you're feeling worn out with work, it can be easy to fall back on more negative thoughts - especially when the news of the world isn't terribly happy. This can have the result of making you feel more worn out. Find the places where you can get a positivity fill - it might be an Instagram feed with beautiful photos (a friend once suggested following florists!), affirmation cards you keep on your desk or in your planner, positive quotes to share with your students, a beautiful picture to look at, or a positivity podcast. 

You might also like to undertake a challenge to be a source of positivity in the world. Look for the times when you can compliment the people around you, play a beautiful or funny piece of music for your students, bring in a treat to share with colleagues or take your family on an outing to a place which is uplifting to you all (we love our local coast town around here - instant mood lift!)

 
 

3. Use Your Time At School Effectively

Time at school is so precious, so make sure you use it! Try not to get distracted by side subjects or talking about non-related stuff with colleagues. Use your planning, marking and organising time to plan, mark, organise, talk with parents, answering emails - things that help you do your work better!

To do this, you might need to find out what helps you focus when you're at school. You might need to spend 30 seconds tidying your workspace or 30 seconds writing a list of things to work on. You might need to invest in a pair of headphones and some music without words (I have a classical music playlist that works for productivity every time!). You might need to close the door to your classroom to let your colleagues and/or students know that you're working. You might need to break big projects down into smaller ones or use a timer to keep yourself on track. 

The more you can get done in school time, the less you bring home. Plus you get those warm fuzzies because you've worked hard in the time given to you for working hard!

 
 

4. Don't Become Too Focused on School

It is possible to become too entranced with school, but it's so important to maintain a life outside of being a teacher. Make time for yourself and the people around you - even if you need to officially schedule it into your phone, planner or calendar. 

One of my former colleagues used to schedule an outing with her young son after school on Fridays. It was the day she'd leave the building right on time, making sure that they got the most of an afternoon treat. Your schedule might include coffee or a walk with friends, an exercise class which leaves you happy, a subscription to the theatre or the ballet, or making time each week to enjoy a hobby or favourite television show. These are the things which bring joy into your life - and they make you a better teacher for it.


You can save time with Back to School and other resources from Galarious Goods. You might not want to spend the time you save with the copier, but it's good to know you'll have the time there when you need it!