How many different hats do you wear?
As a language teacher, you certainly have your professional headgear as well as your personal headgear. But if you are like many of us, you stack them on your head, forgetting to hang one in the closet before smooshing another on top of the one already there! Wouldn’t it be great if we could take one off before putting on the other?
As teaching professionals, we blur the lines between school and home, work and play. My very dear friend, Sarah Mercer and I have been on a campaign to improve wellbeing and help alleviate the stress that teachers feel because of this work/life imbalance and we’ve actually written a book about it!
A new challenge
On March 25th, I hosted a webinar for every language teacher who finds self-care a challenge!
In the webinar, I hit on five major points:
- Aligning our multiple selves. Let’s discuss how language teachers might make the various roles we play more complimentary, reducing the tensions between our personal and professional lives.
- Assessing our mindsets. These are our individual beliefs about the extent to which challenges and problems are within our control. Do we have a fixed mindset (“there’s nothing I can do about it”) or a “growth” mindset (“hmmm, there’s some room for growth here”)? Growth mindsets are essential for maintaining a positive attitude when confronting challenges. In the webinar, we looked at some hands-on ideas to help us nurture growth mindsets and soften up some of our cut-in-stone beliefs.
- Reflecting on attributions and optimism. Here, we worked through several activities that target our attitudes towards things that happen to us and our expectations for the future. Do we attribute our success and failures to internal or external factors? Do we look at life’s events with positivity or negativity?
- Measuring our attention. While some people emphasize the importance of multi-tasking, research suggests that we stress ourselves out and actually waste time and energy by focusing on more than one task. Instead, we should focus our attention on one thing at a time. At this point, you might be saying, “really, are you serious? With everything I have to do?” Yes, that is what I’m proposing! I will follow this up with some fascinating ways to get things done more efficiently. Tips on time management are forthcoming!
- Finding mental space. Here, I advocate giving ourselves mental space and allowing our subconscious to work harder for us. I would be willing to bet that many of us have come up with some of our best ideas in the shower or while sleeping. I’d like to help you discover how to do this more effectively, and how to optimise this precious commodity of ‘productivity at peace’.
Do you want to discover great strategies for nurturing and promoting your wellbeing?
Tammy Gregersen, a professor of TESOL at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, received her MA in Education and PhD in Linguistics in Chile, where she began her academic career. She is co-author with Sarah Mercer of Teacher wellbeing, published by Oxford University Press. Together with Peter MacIntyre, she wrote the books, Capitalizing on Language Learner Individuality and Optimizing Language Learners’ Nonverbal Communication in the Language Classroom. She is also a co-editor with Peter and Sarah Mercer of Positive Psychology in SLA and Innovations in Language Teacher Education. She has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and contributed several chapters in applied linguistics anthologies on individual differences, teacher education, language teaching methodology and nonverbal communication in language classrooms.