I don’t know about you, but in my school we talk a lot about the mental health and well being of our children. And rightly so. It’s one of the most important factors in our students education – if they're upset, stressed, worried or angry, they’re not going to be focused on reading, writing, maths or anything else we try to teach them.
However, what about teacher mental health & wellbeing? Last year, 3,750 teachers were signed off on long-term sick leave due to stress; as the Health and Safety Executive moved teaching to number four in the list of the UK’s most stressful jobs. This was compounded by the latest Teacher Wellbeing Index findings, which reported rising levels of anxiety, depression and irritability amongst the profession.
It's certainly on the agenda for teaching unions and OFSTED in the UK, but has it filtered down through to schools? From the teachers I’ve spoken to, it’s a mixed bag. Some schools have really jumped on it and are putting in place effective strategies to reduce workload and increase staff morale and wellbeing, but others… not so much.
The truth is, there’s no easy way to tackle the issue, but there is something we, as individuals, can do to start the process. If we can begin looking at our own feelings and emotions and track how we’re feeling on certain days, we can spot patterns and triggers. If we know you get stressed out during a certain day of the week, time of the month, or time of the year, we can take extra care of ourselves during those down times. Or we can plan something special to lift our spirits and look forward to.
I find that a great way to track my mood is with a “Year in Pixels” Log – a simple chart with colour-coded emotions. It’s really easy to use - at the end of the day, I take five minutes to think about how I am feeling and if there was anything specific that triggered that feeling or caused a shift in my mood. I just colour the box (and make notes about the triggers if needed). Over time, I begin to see patterns that allow me to adjust or change something in my life to address bad days.
How do you track and manage your stress? Let us know in the comments!
Do you find yourself losing that important paper or forgetting what learning objective or skill is next while typing up lesson plans at the weekend? Is your desk hidden under a pile of loose papers? Are you constantly nagging at your students to be tidier? The struggle is REAL, I know, but there is a solution.
Good organisation is one of the key factors for a successful school year!
Over the next few weeks, my blog posts are going to focus on getting (and staying) organised in the classroom. From things that have worked for me, to tips from teachers around the world, you’re sure to find something that will help you.
The first thing we’re going to look at are teacher planners.
In my opinion, everyone should have a teacher planner. A one stop shop that contains everything you need for your class. I used my first teacher planner a couple of years ago and have never looked back. What I quickly learnt however, was that your planner needs to be flexible and customisable for you. There’s nothing worse than only being given two notes pages in an off-the-shelf planner and filling them up within the first couple of months. Or needing a form that wasn’t included.
So, like any teacher faced with needing a resource that they couldn't find - I created my own!
I made the whole thing in PowerPoint meaning it is editable so teachers can change/alter things to meet their needs. This also means you can type directly into the forms and then print them off, or you can print them first, then hand write all your information. For me, it tends to be a mixture of both. I’ll add my students names onto all the forms and print them off, then I’ll hand write onto the planning/calendar pages.
I also made this planner in two versions - an UK/International version for A4 paper and a US version for Letter size paper. Like many people, I didn't realise until quite recently that American paper is a different size (slightly shorted and wider) than what we use here in the UK and that UK teachers who buy from American sellers often have to mess about changing page size settings and then still end up with some of the graphic stretches. So I decided to save everybody time by converting both the page sizes and the spelling/terminology before I uploaded.
Knowing what’s going on in and around school is super important for organisation, but also for managing our stress levels. No more panicking if it’s your assembly this week or trying to remember when report cards are due. The calendars in this planner are double page spreads to give more room to write for those REALLY busy days/weeks that crop up from time to time. They also have notes pages so you can jot down anything that crops up that doesn’t fit into a specific day or time frame!
If there’s one thing I wanted to get right in this planner it was the lesson planning pages. Planning is the bread and butter of what we do as teachers, but it can also be the most onerous task. The planning formats come in two styles (subjects on the top, or subjects on the side). They also come in 4, 5, 6 & 7 subject version. But it’s really easy to add or delete subjects if these don’t quite meet your needs. You can also edit the subjects – you can be specific if you teach the same subjects each day – name them, if not you can change the text to ‘period 1, 2, 3…’ or ‘lesson 1, 2, 3…’ etc.
I also added some additional daily and small group lesson formats as well as some digital stickers to brighten up the calendars and planning pages - after all, who doesn't like a bit of colour in their teacher binder?
This planner contains over ___ forms – from Class Lists and Schedules to Parent Contact and Field Trip Forms – you’re sure to find what you need. And on the off chance you don’t, you’re covered there too with my ‘Create Your Own’ form template. There are also forms for tracing attendance if you don't do this digitally as well as Grading Sheets and Weekly/Daily To-Do Lists.
I firmly believe that not only should a planner help us be organised but it should reflect the style and personality of its owner too. That's why this planner comes with over 35 cover designs (with more being added). And if you don’t find one that jumps out for you, let me know what you’d like and I’ll make it for you at no additional cost.
The best part is that this planner comes with free updates. I'm always thinking up new and exciting ways to make my planner better. Every time I add a new form or cover, you'll be notified and will be able to download it FOR FREE!!
Like what you see? You can purchase the planner from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Just decide what pages you'll need, print them off and put them together. This planner will work with a traditional 2 or 3 ring binder, but I like to use the a disc binder system. (Arc by Staples or Happy Planner by Me & My Big Ideas). Disc binding offers the same flexibility as a ring binder, but still looks pretty. Here's how it works:
Check out this fantastic disc-binding tutorial by Sea Lemon for more details on how it works:
I'm Ruth. I'm a teacher based in Manchester, UK.
I've been teaching for seven years and am currently based in Year Four, but I have also taught in Year One and Reception.
This blog contains teaching ideas, printables, curriculum, lessons, and activities for your classroom! Make sure to visit often to see the latest blog!