Teachers are so giving, and they can sometimes be guilty of not taking time for themselves. Get my tips for disconnecting and recharging in this episode.
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You’re listening to Episode 25 of the Vibrant music teaching podcast. I’m Nicola Cantan and in this episode we’re talking about burnout and how to avoid it by recharging your teacher batteries.
Well hello there beautiful teachers welcome back to another episode of the vibrant music teaching podcast. If it’s your first time joining me you’re extremely welcome. Today or want to talk to you about something very important. Giving yourself time to recharge your batteries. Being a teacher is one of those things where you tend to be always on. I don’t know many nurses but I’d imagine it’s similar for them. It’s basically professions where we deal with people and we often end up working all day about how we can help this person or that person which is in a way admirable right. It’s because we care so much about the things we’re teaching and how we’re teaching that and the people that we’re teaching. I do this too for sure but we need to take some time off. The thing about problems if you are having a problem with a student right now this might be happening to you something’s whirring around and around in your head. And the thing about this is actually in a lot of cases the best place for solving problems is the back of your head. As in if you get distracted by something you’re actually more likely to solve many problems. If you’ve already thought and thought about it it could probably be solved better by not thinking about it any more.
Sometimes we just need to stick with things and figure them out. But that’s more the case when it comes to things that are mathematical or scientific and less the case with something like problem solving or creative thinking or people. Generally we need to put it out of our mind a little bit in order to come up with a solution. Later ever had that feeling when you’re doing something completely different and something just pops into your head like oh that’s it. That’s what I should do as often happens when exercising or that kind of thing. It can be anytime though and it just suddenly becomes clear to you what you should do about that situation. So if you’re feeling guilty about taking time off or you find it hard to switch off those thoughts. Keep that in mind. You’re actually going to be doing more good for those things if you take the time off. But how do you do it. How can you take genuine time off when your brain is stuck whirring around and right. Well the first step I believe is to do some kind of a brain dump and this is where basically you get everything on paper that is stuck going around and around in your brain.
So if you have goals for your studio and you’re just thinking and thinking about how I want to do this and I want to do that and then we will not hire this teacher or expand to this number of students or get my own commercial space or something write them down put them in a notebook so that you can set them aside.
This is all especially relevant if you have a break coming up which in most parts of the world we do. If you’re down in Australia, New Zealand you probably have a longer break up here. We get two weeks off at Christmas. Generally schools take two weeks off and so do a lot of businesses and obviously I do too in my studio. So I have two weeks off coming up. Many of you will as well have at least that. So you need to figure out a way to get this stuff out on paper so that you can focus on the nice stuff you want to do over your break that is not studio related. Shocking as that might sound there are actually other things outside of teaching did you know that anyway so get these things on paper get the goals or projects you want to work on big ideas you have for the studio or small ideas composition projects anything else that you’ve been thinking about doing. Just get it all down don’t think about how to implemented or how to get there or steps along the way just get it all done. These are things I want to do or come back to them they’re on pause now that’s my pause list. I’ll come back to it later. You also want to write down the concrete To Dos. Okay so if there’s stuff you’re just not going to be able to clear off your plate.
I would suggest that if are small tasks you should just get them checked up. But if there’s stuff that is just not going to happen like updating your studio website or something like that that is a bigger task you’re not going to have time to do it before your break happens then you need to get it onto a list to do list. You’re not going to actually treat it as a to do list because you’re basically just saying this is mine to put off to a stripe. I’m not dealing with this until this date officially. You also might like to make a To Research list if there’s something you’ve wanted to look for a particular student, say a student just received a particular diagnosis over learning difficulty or you wanted to research some new pieces for a student who suddenly is really into squirrels and you want to squirrel themed piece whatever it is. Right. We often have things whirring around that are just I need to look up a solution to this and I know it’s out there but you need to spend some time Googling or Pinteresting and put those things down as well. You’re not going to research those now they’re on your Pause list. They’re going away for a moment. So when you’ve done your brain dump and add any more list to that that you need to to get everything out of your brain and on to paper.
The next step I think is to organize and tidy away everything in your studio or your office tidy everything away literally put it away when you teach your last lessons before your break. Put it all aside put it all where it’s supposed to be without coming up with a new organization system that is totally not what I’m talking about here. Don’t recategorize all your music just put it where it goes for the moment even if you don’t like your system just put it away put everything away so that it’s out of your face even if you’re not going to go into that room. It helps to know that it’s all tidied onto shelves. Another thing I want you to bear in mind is to try and take screens out of the equation. So if you’ve got everything into your notebook onto your list you’ve tidied away your studio. The next thing that’s going to stop you from relaxing and recharging and genuinely disconnecting is your screen and if you hang it on Facebook I’m sure you see me there a lot, right? So you know that I certainly can spend a lot of time online but I do make time to literally not touch my phone. I leave it on flight mode for long periods of time.
I put it in a drawer. I leave it behind me when I go walking. I don’t want to be constantly connected to it because I know even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time it feels fine to me at the time it feels like I’m just doing something nice or just enjoying talking to people and I am enjoying talking to people. But it does have an effect on you. You are human and scientists have shown that this has an effect on you even if you don’t think it does. It doesn’t feel like it does at the time sometimes but it is it is this bright white light that it’s in your face and all these apps that are designed to keep you on them. Guess what Facebook is pumping money into making sure you do not leave Facebook. I promise you that is what they spend their money on and their attention on. OK? Their whole thing is trying not to let you leave Facebook so that you’d see more ads that they get more ad revenue. And that’s true of many many websites and apps and lots of other things. So you need to find some time to literally put away the tech. Now if you have to have your phone on for some reason like if you might get an emergency call from someone set a special ring tone for them or have everything else on silent or come up with some kind of a system where you don’t have to look at your phone and you can put it aside and don’t keep checking it.
I’m sure there are apps that there that can literally control this for you these days. For me I’m not going to get an emergency call and if it was a real emergency people could find me but on my phone no. So I can literally put my phone on flight mode and put it in the drawer if I need to or in a completely different room or leave it at home when I’m going at that kind of thing and I really think that is so important. Okay now that we’ve cleared all of this brain space and eye space from taking away the screens and our studio is tidy and we’ve nothing left to worry about that isn’t on our list somewhere. It’s time to do things you love! So what do you love doing? For many people this time of year, any time of a year it will be spending time with friends and family. For me, Christmas is the time when most of my friends who live abroad who I grew up with went to school with most of them are not living in Dublin anymore.
Dublin has priced a large portion of people or they couldn’t find work here for my generation we’re sometimes called the emigration generation. That’s our nickname.
So most of them live abroad and they come back for Christmas with their family. And it’s one of my favorite things is catching up with all these people who have been in Scotland and the US and Canada and France and all over the place. So that’s fantastic. And also family who’s more free this time of year not working that kind of thing. So take the time for your family. You’ve made the time you’ve made the space in your brain and you can take the time for family and friends. You can also catch up with your hobbies do you like knitting do you like crochet. Those are almost the same thing more diverse hobbies. Do you like playing Pacman on an old 80s console whatever it is take some time for your hobbies or for playing music just for fun! Maybe you’re actually a piano teacher but you play a bit of flute when you have the time for it do that take up the ukulele it’s super easy really fun great for singalongs or play with other musicians that are in town as well take some long walks. Walks are incredibly good you and I know it’s cold but bundle up and get outside in the fresh air because it really makes such a difference to higher recharge. Do you feel later on do some dancing go to some parties or of dancing in your own house dance around while you make the Christmas dinner and maybe sleep. You don’t get much sleep the rest of the year. Now might be the time to catch up. I certainly get plenty of sleep so this isn’t one for me.
But if you’re someone who doesn’t make the time for sleep it really is so vital. It’s so important. So get yourself into a good bed time routine that you can continue into the next year. I hope these tips have been useful for you and that you will take them on board and recharge if you have a teaching break coming up because you are worth it you actually deserve to take a break. I know so many extremely hard working teachers and they give so much to their students and just generally to people around them. They’re generally very giving people. So you need to take some time for you for your family for your friends for the things that you love doing and you need to take some time away from screens too. For those of you who are celebrating I hope you have an awesome Christmas. And if you’re celebrating other holidays I hope you enjoy those too of course and the podcast will be on a break for just a couple of weeks now. Same as my teaching break so that I can recharge myself. So as you have some time over the break I hope you’ll take that time to recharge. And also if you’re Vibrant music teaching member maybe you’ve got some extra time to spend on professional development so that stuff is all still there is no shutting down the site. You can jump in and explore any of the courses have a games printing frenzy or whatever you want to do and I will see you all in 2019. Can you believe it? Read
Chat to you then. If you do have some extra time to spare over your teaching break and you want to invest it in professional development
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