Last weekend I made a mistake. After spending my Saturday cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and performing all the necessary chores demanded of an adult, I should have taken Sunday to rest. Friends, I did not take Sunday to rest. Instead, I spent the day catching up on some projects for work. You can probably guess what happened next.

By Monday morning I was exhausted. Even after two cups of black tea my body was in a perpetual slump. Instead of taking the opportunity to recharge I had burned through all my reserves, and while an early bedtime did help blunt the impact, the fatigue has continued to dog me throughout the week.

Preparing for the Big Day

I know we’ve written before about the importance of rest, but with the upcoming school year only weeks away, I feel it’s a topic worth revisiting. This year promises to be uniquely difficult for educators. Not only are we still dealing with the specter of COVID-19, but we also have to contend with the effects of learning loss in our schools. With so many challenges on the horizon it will be tempting to make rest an afterthought. Instead, we need to implement safeguards to ensure you don’t end up burning the candle at both ends.

Here are just a few strategies that will keep you from overexerting yourself this year:

  • Build Connection: Focus on building relationships this year, both with students and with your fellow educators. Remember, many of us have spent the past year meeting via Zoom, wearing masks, and social distancing for safety. Our social-emotional skills may need some refreshment. Don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers for help and be sure to return the favor if you see someone having a hard time. As for students, it never hurts to take a moment and build classroom community. You can also use relevant lessons like the ones found at Blue Apple to get students collaborating on timely topics.
  • Be Wise with Your “Yes’s”: I believe every educator wants to help where they can, but we can’t say yes to everything. It’s important to set limits on the amount of responsibility you carry. Otherwise, it won’t be long before you’re buried under projects and obligations. This year, remember to be wise about saying “yes” to something. Don’t be afraid to turn down a project if your plate is already full, or only contribute a piece if you’re short on time. You need to make space for rest, and sometimes that means saying “no”.
  • Keep it Simple: Let’s be honest, many educators are still recovering from the trials of 2020. Learning doesn’t have to be a spectacle now just because we’re all back in the classroom. Identify the important parts of your lesson and let go of any extraneous clutter that may be getting in the way. This will give you much more time, not to mention it will also help students find their balance as they return to class.
  • Be Emotionally Available: It feels a little strange to acknowledge this, but we’ve all experienced an incredibly traumatic event. Students in particular are going to need help managing their emotions as they return to the classroom. Be cognizant of the social-emotional health in your school, both for students and for yourself. If you need to pause a lesson so someone can work through a strong emotion, do it. To paraphrase a much grander saying, “Learning is pointless if a person can’t navigate their own emotions.
Giving Yourself Time

As we all return to the classroom this year, we will—once again— be adjusting to new rules and new realities. Remember to be kind to yourself and set limits. You deserve a moment to catch your breath and recharge before jumping into the fray again. After all, you can’t be at your best without a little rest!

Looking for more ideas to reinvigorate your classroom this year? Be sure to check out our free strategies and resources at!

*Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons.