Have you ever felt (or are you feeling) completely alone in your school?
Have you ever struggled to do your job, manage your classroom, or understand your curriculum? But maybe you have no one you can turn to?
There are some great schools. And, if I’m being honest, there are some horrible schools.
There are some great admins, and there are some terrible admins.
There are great colleagues, and there are terrible colleagues.
There are positive, uplifting school environments. And there are toxic, depressing school environments.
If you ever find yourself in a bad situation and are feeling completely discouraged, there are some things you can and should do.
1. Leave work at work
There is a reason I put this as my number one tip!!
If you truly are having a rough year, you need to do your best to separate that from your home life. You need to have some place where you can recharge, rest, and get a mental escape from school.
If you are constantly bringing home your work, checking your email, and doing things at home, you will never get the space from what is stressing you.
Do your best to really make space between the two.
2. Find your community
Try to find a friend in your school, whether the teacher is in the same grade level as you or not. Find someone who has your back and that you can support as well.
If you are in a toxic school environment and there is no one there, join a support group. Our Elementary Teachers Support Group on Facebook is made up of thousands of supportive teachers who help each other through good days and bad days. Come join us!
Don’t ever feel like you need to face things alone.
3. Document, document, document
If you feel like your job may be on the line, you really need to be smart with your documentation.
Paper trails are very important. Send emails when you have questions.
Send follow up emails summarizing a conversation when it happens only in person. (You can easily do this, in a non-obvious way. EX: Say you have a convo with your admin in the hall about something you requested. You can email them later and say, I just wanted to thank you for our convo about …XYZ….today. I’m looking forward to implementing what you suggested beginning tomorrow.) This allows you to get a paper trail without looking too obvious. I don’t recommend you do this with every conversation you have, but if you feel like you are being targeted, this can be a good strategy to protect yourself.
Documentation is also important for classroom management, the curriculum you are teaching, and other things you do in the classroom.
The old saying goes, if you didn’t document it, you didn’t do it.
Get in the habit of having a paper trail for everything you do. Make notes about students’ behavior if you need to. Write detailed lesson plans and save them. Keep parent communication documented. I could go on and on. (You can learn a LOT more about documentation in my free course that I’ll tell you about in just a minute.)
4. Be a learner
If you are struggling at school because of lack of experience, be a learner.
You can read hundreds of blogs from experienced teachers who offer tips and advice.
You can take courses (such as my free, New Teacher Boot Camp course) to help you if you are a brand-new teacher and are feeling overwhelmed.
You can also request to observe other teachers in your building who seem to be rocking things this year!
5. Make plans for change
Don’t give up on your career because of one bad year. We all have them.
However, if you are in a toxic school environment, you need to make plans for a change.
Do NOT stay in an unhealthy environment if you don’t need to. There are great schools out there—you just have to find them!