This post originally appeared on the blog The Designer Teacher.  

So you’re having a tough year. You might already be thinking about how to avoid the same situation next year — but what do you do now? Unlike most jobs, quitting mid-year isn’t really an option for teachers. During the 2016-17 school year, I seriously considered not coming back after winter break. However, I knew they wouldn’t be able to replace me (my school already had unfilled special education positions), so I decided to do whatever I needed to in order to make it through the year. Having come out on the other side, here are a few tips:


1. Treat yourself.

You are in survival mode. Now is not the time to deny yourself a second cup of coffee or new shoes. If you can afford it, buy yourself a little present. It’s not a long term solution, but it might help you make it through a tough day or week.

One way to treat yourself is to simply pick up a cup of coffee here and there.


2. Schedule self care.

As teachers, we’re always going to have plenty of “buts” when it comes to making time for self care. So go ahead and schedule that time in to make sure it happens! For me, that meant taking at least a short break every day after school, yoga on Friday nights, and a bath on Sunday nights. You can find more self care ideas here.

There are plenty of ways to take care of yourself, including scheduling a relaxing bubble bath each week.

3. Say no.

We all know there are plenty of tasks outside of teaching 8-3 that make a classroom and school function. I’m sure you’re on a million voluntary committees and maybe even run a club or two. These things are necessary, but if you’re on the brink of a breakdown, say no.


4. Remember your “why.”

Why did you become a teacher? Was it for good test scores, or to make your principal happy, or to fill out endless paperwork? I’m going to guess not. Remember that you’re there for the kids. I would recite
“I am here for the kids” (along with other affirmations) when I started to get overwhelmed.

I am here for the kids. 

5. Talk it out.

If you don’t want to break down crying in the middle of a lesson, you need to find someone to talk to. As much as coworkers can be great venting buddies, I actually recommend talking to someone who doesn’t work at your school. Your coworkers are likely facing the same issues you are, and those conversations can sometimes get so negative as not to be helpful. I always recommend seeing a therapist to everyone, but family and friends are great too.


Everyone has a tough teaching year at some point. Whether you make a change after this year is up to you, but for now, be kind to yourself. You can do this!


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The Designer Teacher was born out of Sarah Forst’s two passions: education and design. As a special education teacher with a degree in design, creating teacher resources and blogging about teacher life comes naturally to her. She is passionate about special education, social justice, and self care. For more fresh ideas about living a balanced #teacherlife in and out of the classroom, visit Sarah on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or her blog. Stop by her TpT store for phonics resources and mindful activities.