Hello, sunshine. It is so good to be back with you, dear teacher friend. Right now we are in one of the most hectic times of the year racing towards the big epic Christmas break. So I thought this would be the perfect time to give you a little tough love, to give you some advice on all of the things looming and twirling around in that big, beautiful brain of yours. I think this is perfect timing for you to close the tabs on your teacher browser.
I know your head is about to pop wide open because you have too much going on in that wonderful brain of yours. So today, let’s tackle this idea of closing some of that down, shutting it away, and focusing on what is truly important in your career and in your life.
My Observation From Observation
So I’m at a brand new school. And never before had my new principal given me an observation. But because it is my cycle year, I have to be observed two times. So it was time for the first one. And I’m very nervous because first of all, although I’ve been teaching for 10 years, this is only my second principal. I did not know what to expect from this observation. So I’m highly, highly nervous about it.
And in my preparation, I’m getting things prepared on my computer. I pulled up Beat the Baby, Phast Phonics, daily writing, all of those little routines that I love to use in my classroom. And I’m also pulling up some brain breaks that I like for my students to do between transitions. What I notice is that I literally have like 20 tabs open on my Chrome browser.
On a normal day, I would never even think a thing about it. I would just use those tabs. I would not take time to close them. But because I wanted to be able to focus on only what was most important during this observation, I did not need any other distractions. I closed down a lot of those tabs. I was able to reduce it down to three. Actually all of that complexity was just sitting there in my way. I was fighting with it every single day, and never thought until that moment to shut some of that off.
Your Brain is a Browser
Teacher, this is how our brains function every single day. I want you to think of your brain, this most magnificent piece of technology that no scientists could ever replicate. I want you to think of this beautiful brain of yours as an internet browser. And those tabs that are open, like my 20 tabs that were open, are your thoughts. They are your to do list. They are all of the things that you’re dealing with inside of your browser each and every day.
Sometimes we feel that our thoughts and feelings are out of our control, like these tabs don’t have the little X button to clear them out. I’m overwhelmed. I am stressed. I’m ready to quit. And maybe even, I need a new career. I need to do this. I need to speak to that person. And I need to send this paper home with this certain kid.
We Control the Tabs
We feel like that’s out of our control. But truly, we control the tabs. I want you to say this to yourself. I can control my thoughts. Doesn’t seem possible to some of us. At one point, it did not seem possible to me. But that was really the turning point in my life and my career, when I realized that I do have control of my thoughts, and my thoughts in turn control my feelings.
So teacher, whether you want to believe it or not, I’m telling you that you control the tabs in your browser, just like a mouse can click and close those useless tabs. In just an instant, you can close down these thoughts and focus only on what is important. But you have to have the self awareness to realize that you have too much going on. If you feel stressed, overwhelmed, if you have anxiety about going back to work, these feelings are the direct result of your thoughts.
Close Tabs by Clearing the Browser
So we need strategies put into place to stop those useless things in their tracks. We need to replace negative thoughts with positive ones so that we can in turn have those positive feelings that drive great action in our careers and in our classrooms.
You’re probably saying, well, Toni, how do I close some of these tabs when there’s so much going on that I can’t even sort through it? I would first recommend to go back HERE when I shared my two step process for tackling teacher overwhelm. I talked about doing a thought download and prioritizing the things that are going on in your head. One part of prioritizing is to just stop some thoughts in their tracks. Some things are completely useless for us to think about, and we know it, but we sort of let it go on. We play through the what ifs and the catastrophes that could happen.
We know that worrying and stressing has no positive effect at all. Now is the time to put on the brakes for those looming, ruminating thoughts that we don’t need. After completing your thought download and prioritizing those things you’ll be able to determine what can you just get rid of. You may also come across some tabs in that teacher browser brain of yours that you’re just leaving open because you want to deal with them later.
Close Tabs by Turning Them into a To Do List
You may be having recurring thoughts about hey, I need to meet with this person so I have to keep reminding myself. Well teacher, just write it down. When we write things down on a to do list, it gives our brain the permission to stop thinking about it because we know it is somewhere written down and we will not forget. So you can close some of your tabs by making a to do list.
You know, even though I didn’t realize it, when I opened that browser to clean it up that day, during my formal observation with my brand new principal, I thought to myself, This is so stressful dealing with all these tiny little tabs, how awful is it that I just deal with this every day and never do anything about it.
But when we reduce them down and prioritize them, we can delegate some things and decide what we want to get rid of. And then we can take action to actually do some of the things because our brain has the capability to focus and to actually get them done.
Close the Tabs to Find Joy
So all of this to say, if you are feeling frantic, lost, helpless, anxious, maybe your muscles are tense, and you’re so serious, when normally your demeanor with your students is much more light and happy and joyful. Maybe you feel finished with a career that you once loved, or that you dreamed of up until this point. Maybe it is time for you to close some of the tabs in your browser.
I needed to do that in order to focus on my observation, my one lesson that I needed so desperately to impress my new principal. It worked like a charm. My tabs were clear, I only had open the three that I needed at that moment. And teacher, that is what you need to do with your brain. You need to say to yourself, I need to get some of this negativity and overwhelm out. And I need to focus on what’s important in this moment for this observation, for this lesson, for this day, fill in the blank for whatever you need, but we can not let this overwhelm take away our joy.
Joyful Teacher Private Coaching
Have you been struggling with teacher overwhelm? Have you almost thought about leaving or retiring early from a career that you once just loved so, so much? Or maybe you’re a brand new teacher and you can’t figure out why there are other people who love this so much.
I love it. And I love to spread it. But if you are needing deeper encouragement than what you’re finding here on the podcast, if you need personalized accountability, and a relationship to help you sustain in this career, I could be that for you. I provide individualized guidance for teachers to discover new joy in their career. And I’d love to help and connect with you. If that sounds like something you are interested in, email me at toni @ teachertoni.com (remove the spaces) to request a free 30 minute session with me. I would love to talk with you.
I crave opportunities to help teachers just like you release some of their anxieties and that tension that builds up. We have to let that go, because we need to enjoy our career. We don’t need to wish away our life. So there’s no obligation. If right now you feel that tension, that stress, let’s do a free 30 minute session, no obligation, no pressure. Just me and you, two teachers talking and searching for joy, for contentment, for peace.
Refresh Your Brain Browser
And even if coaching is not right for you, I do hope that you will take time to close some of those tabs. Take your brain’s little mouse clicker, and close the things down that are not helping you focus. Refresh your browser and just enjoy the career that you are so talented at. Be that joyful teacher that you are for your students. You’ve got this. You can do it, and I know it.
I hope you are having a wonderful race to Christmas break. I always keep teachers like you in my thoughts and in my prayers. You are changing the world one little sweet child at a time with that joyful attitude, with your knowledge, your motivation, your abilities, your experience, and your love. Keep it up sweet teacher. And as always, until we meet again, go make a difference, teacher friend.