It’s clear now that self-care for music teachers is equally, if not more, important during this time when we are teaching from home. The environment and schedule may have changed, but the stress levels have not. For many of us, myself included, thinking about and preparing for an unknown future is contributing to that stress. The last post, TACET: Home Edition (Part 1), discussed strategies we can use right now incorporating the first three pillars of TACET: Take Five, Accountability, and Care of Self. This post will look at the final two pillars: Enough and Time Management.
The “E” in TACET might be the most important letter. If it weren’t for my love of acronyms, “E” would have come first! The “E” stands for “Enough” and remembering that above all, you are enough.
As music teachers and as humans we frequently tell ourselves a story that we should do more, we should do what other people are doing, and we should do what other people want us to do. Between the Virtual Classrooms and Virtual Ensembles, it’s easy to understand why this happens. Social media is constantly blasting everyone else’s best work in front of us. And while that can be great for idea generation and collaboration, it’s also a recipe for comparisonitis. Comparing ourselves to others with the constant feeling that we aren’t doing enough.
But the truth is – you are enough. And you have to remember that!
One key to remembering that you are enough is having the ability to say “no” when appropriate. This is a challenge for me and many music educators that I know! While there are many tricks to practicing this skill, everything from role playing conversations to surrounding the “no” with a compliment, sometimes the hardest thing is convincing yourself that “no” is an acceptable answer!
One strategy involves asking yourself three questions:
- Is this good for me as a person?
- Is this good for my organization or program?
- Will this move us closer to our mission?
If the answer to any of those questions is no, strongly consider saying no to whatever is being asked of you.
As you work to take care of your mental and physical well-being and remind yourself regularly that you are enough, it’s worth also looking for ways to best manage your time and “work smarter, not harder.” This is especially true when working from home, as the boundary between “work” and “home” is no longer as clear. Here are a few tips that have worked well for me:
- The Daily Five: At the end of your workday, make a list of five things that must get completed the next day. Prioritize the items by numbering them one through five. The next day, begin with task number one. Only move on when number one is complete. Work through the rest of your tasks in that order.
- Batch Work: Batch like tasks together and complete them all at once. This can work for everything from lesson planning, to answering emails, and grading assessments. Schedule specific times to do all of these things. Your brain is more successful handling similar tasks instead of jumping from one thing to the next.
- Timers: Set a timer while working on specific tasks and do not let yourself do anything else during that time. Working distraction-free and with a “limited” amount of time will often help you focus more and be more productive. I usually set my timer for 25 minutes. If at the end of the 25 minutes I am in a good flow and want to keep going, I will. Otherwise I take a break before starting the next task. The Pomodoro Technique, invented by Francis Cirillo in the 1980’s, is a great example of using timers.
Additionally, Creatively Productive* by Lisa Johnson is a fantastic book for teachers about “Essential Skills for Tackling Time Waster, Clearing the Clutter, and Succeeding in School and Life.”
As we move through the remaining few days or weeks of school, it’s important we keep these ideas in mind and continue to take care of ourselves until the very last day! When summer vacation arrives, we can step back and reflect. What went well? What can we do better next year? And most importantly, what can we do NOW to help set ourselves up for success in the future? While it’s good to take the summer to reset and recharge, establishing good habits increases your chances of maintaining good self-care when the new school year begins.
Keep an eye on this space over the next few weeks as I dive into what the term “balance” really means when it comes to music teacher well-being. In addition, be sure to join our Facebook Group, if you haven’t already, to continue the conversation!
*This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you. This will help with domain and hosting fees, and well as providing additional resources for you. Thanks for your support!