3 things every #okayteacher needs to do during the summer

As teachers, we use summer to re-energize, relax, and reflect. We also make big to do lists with ideas that both excite us and haunt us, as they tend to be really time consuming. Do we have to do it all? Absolutely not. Here are my top tips to help you make the most of your summer.

Give yourself time.

As you read this post, you may not even be on summer break yet. The last thing you're thinking about is the 2017-18 school year. That is okay! Give yourself time to step back from school and the classroom. That may be a day, a weekend, a week, or a whole month. However long you give yourself, enjoy it. Enjoy your family, enjoy time for yourself, and enjoy NOT being in the classroom. We all know that we deserve it. Do not feel guilty about not already planning for the next school year.

Don't buy all the things.

I use to be a big supporter of #buyallthethings. You're going to see so many trends this summer for the next school year. Take ideas, take inspiration, but don't feel pressured or guilty to buy all the cute things at Target. Ask yourself, "What am I going to use this for?" If you don't have an almost immediate answer for it, you don't need it. Again, don't feel guilty when you're not doing everything everyone else is doing on social media. You can't keep up with the Jones' and you don't have to! Your kiddos will love you and their classroom all the same.

Don't change everything.
As teachers, we take summer to think about how we can change things in our classroom for the next school year. How to make things better for us and our students. Which you should do. Summer is wonderful for reflection. However, be careful, and give yourself grace. Don't make a mile long list of things for you to do before August or September. Because then the school year will roll around and you're going to be setting yourself up for a not so awesome guilt trip. I'm going to give myself a list like I would for my students. A must and may do list. I think I will limit my must do's to 3, and 10 may do's. If I get my 3 must do's done by end of July, great! I can start working on my May Do list afterwards. I'm still thinking on my list, so I'll keep you updated on Instagram. I did, however, make my template, so if you'd like it.

You can grab it here.

So there you go my friends. Enjoy your time, don't spend your whole savings, and limit changes. Don't set yourself up for a guilt trip. You don't need that.

I've also uploaded 11 watercolor #okayteacher affirmations that you can print or save to your phone for extra reminders.

You can find them here.

This summer I will be featuring other teachers (including bloggers, TpTers, mamas) to share their stories.

If you haven't already, please check out this post by my friend Carlee from The Kindergarten Press. She shares her struggles with anxiety and postpartum panic disorder all while being a young teacher and new mom. Thank you Carlee for sharing your story! You're making a difference, my dear friend.


Top 3 Tips to Survive A Field Trip

Last Friday I took my first field trip with just my class! Thanks to many of my followers, our class pet Sonic the Hedgehog won a gift card to a local attraction and we used it to take an end of the year trip. These 3 things helped me survive and save my sanity :)
We were going to a big place where a kid could easily run off in any direction. This scared the bajeezus (how do you even spell that?) out of me. So, I planned accordingly by making my kids shirts. Now, most of my kiddos don't have a school shirt, so I purposely sized up to last them through the years. They loved them, and I loved that I could easily spot them with their purple tees. If your kids have the same school shirt, that would work well, but you could also just request that all kids wear a specific solid color shirt. You could even tie-dye!

 Our trip consisted of arcade games, ticket redemption, playing in a giant indoor jungle gym equipped with foam balls you can throw and shoot out of canons, and a pizza lunch. I was concerned about letting the kids go back to playing in the jungle gym after lunch, even if time allowed. So, I brought some printables with me along with highlighters, pencils, and crayons zip pouches. 
I made a word search using this website that included their names and attractions at our location. After lunch, I handed out highlighters and they chose to do the word search and tic-tac-toe for 10 minutes while we waited on our bus. It kept them busy, and my anxiety under control as they weren't running around.

We did the reflection when we got back to school. It was the perfect way to end our day and allow them to share about their trip with me. 

I was so excited to have parents willing to help out on our trip. This made it so much easier on me when I put all the kids into groups. I wanted our parents to have all the needed information, but didn't want them to have to carry around a piece of paper. So I made mini information pages that fit into name tag clips I had access to use from my school office. 
I included our approximate timeline so they knew what our activities were and when they were happening, a list of all of the groups so they could easily see who was with who, and our expectations and consequences (which I didn't have to give, THANK GOODNESS). My kids and I reviewed these (1-3 PBIS) all week long so they knew they were not going to act crazy!
I also included my cell number (AHHH!) just in case anyone got separated. Not used at all. Let's hope I don't have siblings next year and parents saved that number... ;)

Parents were great about clipping the tags to their shirts somewhere, so I could also keep track of them...totally unintentional, but super helpful.

If you found these tips helpful, I also put together a product that includes the editable version of my activity page, reflection page (primary lines with dashes, primary lines without dashes, and smaller lines idea for upper elementary), and editable chaperone name tag clips. This product is on sale 50% off for 48 hours since posting this blog post.

If you'd like to save these tips, just hover the image and save to Pinterest!


3 things every #okayteacher needs to do at the end of the year

After the response of my initial #okayteacher post, Learning to be okay with being an okay teacher, I decided to turn it into a series. As the school year is coming to an end, I wanted to give 3 simple pieces of advice for any #okayteacher, and really any teacher.

The end of the year is a stressful, but also fun time with our kids. There is a ton to get done, and it seems like everything happens all at once. Here is my top 3 tips to help you survive and feel okay with being an #okayteacher.

If you're a teacher on social media, as an avid poster or an avid browser, you're going to start seeing teachers prepare their end of the year gifts for their students. You're going to see really cute ideas! Some you may feel inspired by. Some you may feel like you're the worst teacher in the world, because all you were planning on giving them was something simple. You will see inexpensive gifts, and you will see expensive, time consuming gifts. Do not feel obligated to go over the top and deep into your wallet for your student gifts. You do things for you students all year long. Whether that is purchasing extra supplies, treating them to a fun snack, or simply being their amazing teacher. Your students are not going to know how much money or time you spent on them. They will know how much you love them, and that doesn't have to be an elaborate expensive gift. The best gifts come from the heart, and those are the gifts your students will remember and cherish.

This is one thing I did for my students last year. It did take some time, but it was time well spent. I wrote each of my students letters. I reflected on the year I had with them, told them how special they were, and how proud I was. I included paper, pencil, envelope, and stamp, so they could write me back this summer. I received letters from almost every one of my students last summer.

You probably have some days built up and can take a day off just for you. At the end of the year, it is easier to take a day off because your classroom has routines and procedures established, and that makes it a little easier to take a day to yourself. I took my first personal day ever for just me last month. I slept in, went to the spa for a massage (thanks to my amazing husband), and did nothing. It was the best thing I could have done for myself. If you can't take a full day, try taking a morning or afternoon. If you still can't take a day from school actually off, take a night or weekend off from school work. Take time for you. There is no shame in that. 
Today I went to the movies with my husband rather than lesson planning. My plans are still yet to be written as I work on grad school and try to enjoy my Sunday evening. When I published my blog post back in January about being a teacher with anxiety, I had no idea it would touch so many people. I love hearing from each and every one of you. Your stories help me, too! So I decided to unite us all with an #okayteacher tee. When you wear it, I want you to be reminded of all of the other teachers that are right there with you. Doing everything possible while still being human and living a life outside of the classroom. 💕 "Because being an okay teacher in my mind, can still mean that I'm a great teacher in the minds of my students." Tee is available on lpaulldesigns.com and also linked in my profile.
A post shared by Lindsey Paull (@missjohnstonsjourney) on

The weather is getting nicer and if you had state testing, you're probably done or will be soon. April and May is the best time to step away from the lesson plans. Take your class outside and let them be kids. Play a game as a class...tag, kickball, or what my class just did the day before Spring Break...Duck, Duck, Goose. It is so much fun watching your kids just be kids! They work so hard, they deserve to have fun. I know it is hard when you still have standards x,y, and z to cover, but giving your kids a 15 minute break will be okay. Rainy day? Show a video. Don't be ashamed to turn on a Magic School Bus episode or Bill Nye. They will survive, and so will you.

Cheers to the rest of the school year, and cheers to being an #okayteacher.

Stay tuned for more #okayteacher posts. I have loved hearing each and every one of your stories via email, messages on Instragram and Facebook, and comments. It has warmed my heart to let teacher unite through their struggles and feeling of inadequacy. You are enough. You are more than okay. I love seeing your #okayteacher moments. Please continue to share them using the #okayteacher on Instagram.


Learning to be okay with being an okay teacher

I've tried to write this post for a long time now, but couldn't manage allowing myself to be vulnerable. Then I realized that I'm probably not alone. So, I finally decided it was time to share.

Last April, I had a panic attack. This was a first for me. While in the middle of a conversation, I remember telling my husband something was wrong as my breathing began to change and become very shallow. My legs wouldn't stop shaking and I began to lose the ability to communicate. I could hear myself in my mind saying what I wanted to say, but the words weren't coming out of my mouth. I stopped breathing. I held my head between my legs as my husband told me I had to breathe. Again, I could hear myself in my mind telling me to breathe, that if I didn't I was going to pass out. But I couldn't breathe.
I don't know how much time passed.

I do know that my husband took me to the emergency room, and I was scheduled an in-take appointment for the following Monday at our mental health clinic upon being discharged a few hours later.

I then began to get anxiety about my anxiety.
Am I crazy? I'm not crazy. I'm fine. I don't need help. I'm just stressed. I'm fine. Do I need medicine? I don't want to be on medicine. I'm fine. I don't need to talk to anyone. I'm fine.

I wasn't fine. I'd been dealing with anxiety and mild depression for years. I finally came to a breaking point. That breaking point was the stress and pressure I endure from the job I love, but also hate.

I had been having a pretty hard month in what was a pretty good school year, but certain aspects of my job were really weighing heavily on me. And that's when I began to crack.

After my first panic attack, I had more. I had to learn breathing techniques and learn how to not catastrophize things, which is something that I am continually working on. Every day is a battle. I have good days, and bad days. There are times when I go to therapy thinking...I don't have anything to talk about...then I find myself spilling my guts through tears 10 minutes later. Because let me be clear, teaching wasn't the only thing causing me anxiety. I had personal battles that I had been dealing with in silence since I was 7 years old. But teaching was definitely taking its toll on me.

I thought I would do really well in the summer months, because I wasn't worrying about my job. However, the 1st week of summer I was told that my section of 3rd grade was being eliminated and I was being moved. Cue anxiety. My anxiety last summer was probably worse than what it was when I had my first panic attack. It was really defeating.

I started this blogging/social media world of teaching almost the same time I started teaching. This was both a blessing and a curse. You see, for someone with anxiety whose primary core belief is never being good enough, seeing the amazing things other teachers do, makes you feel everything but amazing.

I constantly feel that I'm not doing enough. I feel guilty if I take a couple hours on a weekend to just sit and watch TV, when I could be creating things for my classroom, TpT, or even getting ahead on my business orders. I also feel guilty when I don't stay late or get to school early. There is SO much I could be doing at school, especially since I'm in a new grade level this year, but honestly, I'm just trying to get through the day. I rarely stay late. I have gone in early. I do go in on weekends.

What I've slowly began to realize, thanks to therapy, is that if I don't take that time for ME, I'm not being the best teacher I can for my students. I'm not being the best wife for my husband. I'm not being the best mom for my animals (judge me). Because you need time for yourself. Every single day I try to do something for me. Usually that is a trip to Starbucks in the morning. My colleagues make fun of me for paying $5 for a coffee almost every morning, but it makes me feel good. I shouldn't feel bad about that. But I do, on a regular basis.

This school year has been a pretty difficult one for me. I try not to talk about it too much on social media, but just know that I am struggling. I also know that there are many of you who are struggling, too, for various reasons.

This year I have second guessed my career on multiple occassions. I've worried about being part of the statistic we all hear in college about teacher turn over and teachers leaving the field after 5 years or less. I'm on year 5, and I totally get it.

The point of this post is simply to share. To let others know that they're not alone, because that's how I felt. I felt like how is everyone else doing this? How do they have time to create new products all the time? How do they have time to reorganize their classrooms all the time? How do they have the energy to stay til 9PM 3 times a week and go in on weekends? How do they balance this all with being a wife and a mom? I'm not even a mom, yet, how am I ever going to find a way to do all of it?!

The answer is...I won't. I will have to learn to give things up. To not do as much. To not worry when it doesn't get done.

I'm going to have to learn that it's okay to be an okay teacher. Because being an okay teacher in my mind, can still mean that I'm a great teacher in the minds of my students.

I would love to hear from you if you feel comfortable sharing your story. You can leave me a comment, message me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or email me at thrivingin3rd@gmail.com
Back to Top