Let’s face it: it’s hard to turn off your teacher brain.
But this is a sign for you to step away from your screen, take a break, and find a way to turn off your teacher brain!
After working full hours of teaching, meeting, grading, and doing other teacherly things in school, I know you might be pretty guilty of spending your after-work hours still thinking about school.
And no doubt that once you get home, you’ll be in front of your computer, test papers, or lesson plans, trying to catch up on the endless workload that doesn’t seem to have an end.
I know it’s easy to get stuck in your head when you’re buried with thoughts about teaching, grading papers, making lesson plans, and meetings because that’s what teachers do!
But know that there are some things that you can do to get out of your head—or at least make room for more fun and non-teaching thoughts.
Today we’ll go over 10 ways to turn off your teacher brain to help you transition out of work mode and into life mode (without thinking about your next class tomorrow)!
10 signs you’re taking work stress home with you
- You struggle to relax even after you get home
- You’re losing sleep because of it
- Your energy is depleted, so you’re unable to do anything after work
- You’re quick to anger or get upset
- You feel like you’re unproductive during downtime
- You have a hard time taking time off—even when you clearly need it
- Your body is tense, and everything is aches and pains
- You constantly think and talk about work and spend less time doing things you love
- You can’t seem to concentrate at home
- You feel a sense of dread when it’s time to go to work
We know that teaching can be rewarding, but the stress is inescapable. So if you’ve been experiencing any of these signs or anything related, it’s high time for you to learn how to retake the reign, control your mental health, and free your mind from stressful work!
How To Turn Off Your Teacher Brain: 10 Nifty Ways!
1.) Keep your teacher things out of sight
Teachers have a job that you can literally think about 24 hours a day seven days a week. Keeping your stuff out of sight will immediately help you turn off your teacher brain.
Out of sight, out of mind!
The first thing you would want to do once to get home is to keep all of your work things out of plain sight; you can hide them in your closet or maybe put them in a drawer where you won’t be able to glance at them.
This might sound silly, but it works! I know that it can be really challenging to get out of the teacher mode, especially when you have a lot of things on your mind.
But remember that it is more than ok to take a break because you deserve it, especially after a long hard day thinking about classroom management, lesson-making, and differentiation—it just goes on and on and on. Am I right?
As tempting as it is to take a quick peek, keep them in a drawer or your closet. Trust me, try to give yourself space tonight!
2.) Yes, you have a job, but you have a life too
Teachers value their jobs; some even dedicate their whole lives to teaching. But you must remember that you have a life outside of school too.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of you having a life outside of school because if you don’t, you’ll get burned out, and you might even start to hate the thought of standing in the classroom—and you certainly don’t want that to happen.
Too much of something is never good for you. You need time for yourself away from your job so that when you get back, you can focus and do what needs to be done without having any anxiety or stress from all the things running in your mind.
3.) Practice Boundaries
Isn’t it odd how no one ever asks how to turn on teacher brain? This is because you have a routine start time and a starting line where you have to show up and do your job and give your best effort to be the teacher you want to be.
But why can’t you turn it off? The reason behind that is that you don’t have the same boundary when it comes to the end of your day when you have to stop working. Most of the time, you’ll do extra hours trying to finish extra tasks and other things that you shouldn’t have to.
You have to create that boundary for yourself because no one is going to do it for you.
Just like how you encourage yourself to be the best teacher you can be, try to also encourage yourself to take some time off and give your mind space, a breath of fresh air away from all the things that are troubling you.
I know that setting boundaries can feel restricting, especially when you have tons of things to do, but recharging and clearing your mind has the same level of importance as doing your duties as an educator.
4.) Don’t use your weekend as extra time to get things done.
It’s a lovely weekend, but instead of doing other fun things and spending time with your family, you’re out there cramming up, getting ready for next week’s shenanigans at school. If this is the norm for you, it’s to change the narrative of the story.
It’s so easy to fall into the rabbit hole of thinking that you’ll be better prepared if you’re spending all of your waking minute planning lessons and other materials to use for teaching.
In reality, you’re only doing more harm to yourself because coming up with an entire curriculum alone isn’t possible or even helpful!
Remember that none of us can predict the future, and you’ll never know what will happen in class. A student can spontaneously ask a question that can lead her down an unexpected path.
And if everything is planned out ahead of time, then there won’t be any room for anything spontaneous or exciting to happen during class time; this will make your class seem robotic and repetitive.
This will take away from both your enjoyment and your students’ enjoyment of learning.
If they feel like they have no choice but to follow whatever lesson plan you have already prepared ahead of time, then their creativity will suffer too, and no one wants that, so make sure that this doesn’t happen.
5.) Implement a strict digital detox
This one is guaranteed to be a refreshing hack. Do you remember the last time that you spent your evening not looking at or using any electronic device? If not, then it’s high time for you to do a digital detox.
Try to set and take a digital detox even for just one hour each evening after work. Don’t use any electronic device or try to take a peek at your phone or check any email notifications. This will allow you to be more present, mindful, and present in the moment with others around you.
This will also give you some space for self-care; if you haven’t been able to light your favorite scented candle in a while, try to do it while you do your skincare routine! A good facial mask, along with your favorite tea or coffee, will surely take your mind off of school.
You can also try digital detox apps like Freedom to help you monitor your tech usage. Apps like this will help you take control over how much time spend on technology.
As much as possible, turn off notifications and set time limits when you use social media apps. Or better yet, just completely delete them on your phone, especially ones that are taking a lot of your time but not really contributing any significance to your life!
6.) Start talking about something else right after you leave your classroom
Yes, I know. This might sound like an impossible feat, but doing this will help you escape your teacher brain phenomenon.
As soon as school is over and your work is done for the day, don’t go straight home to sit down and go over all the things that you weren’t able to finish for the day—instead, try to engage with your friends or family and talk about something fun that isn’t related to school!
This will help take your mind things off of anything related to work and will even help you relax and unwind as well. Try to start conversations about things you’re passionate about; if you have kids go and do some fun activities with them (of course, not school related).
7.) Don’t skimp on your breaks
This one is a biggie; most teachers will take their breaks for granted when in fact it is one of the most important parts of their day.
Your breaks are your chance to detach yourself from work for maybe about half an hour or so. So make that count!
You should treat your break time as your sacred me time, try to watch your favorite series while you binge on your healthy snack, or maybe go on and catch up with your colleagues and round up funny things that happened in your class while you guys share lunch together.
8.) Find meaningful activities to fill your time
Outside of work, try to go find something to do that is way opposite of your work. It could be a new hobby like diamond painting, cheese tasting (or maybe even wine tasting *wink*), or just about anything that’s the opposite polar of your work.
Go out and take up something that you’re interested in, enroll in workshops, join book clubs, or even learn how to play an instrument you’ve wanted to learn for years!
Just try to make sure you can enjoy and commit to it regularly so that it becomes a habit rather than an occasional activity, in don’t worry about what other people might think.
If the idea of dating up an instrument seems daunting to you, just try and sit down with some colored pencils and create beautiful art without worrying too much about technique or style. If you’re curious to discover the amazing benefits of adult coloring books, you can check them out here.
At the end of today, the point is just to have fun and forget about work!
9.) Spend time with family and friends away from school!
It’s utterly sad that we only get two days off in a week, but try to look at the bright side and make the most out of it.
As a teacher, it gets easy to get comfortable in your routine that you forget what it feels like to be someone you should be outside of the classroom.
So don’t let this happen! There are many amazing places you can visit or maybe even try to go for a staycation to a hotel nearby your area. Or maybe go out on camping trips with your friends or family and encourage yourself to go outside of your comfort zone.
Find an excuse you can get to get out of your comfort zone and experience the world from another perspective.
Learning something new will help you see things through fresh eyes and will give you a fresh start when Monday comes.
10.) Read a book not related to teaching
Reading is a great way to transport yourself into another dimension. I love how I get immersed into the world of the book I am reading, and if you’ve felt the same, too, you know what I am talking about.
If you haven’t been able to pick up a book in a while, then this might be a sign for you to start reading again. But try not to pick up a book related to teaching if you can; go for something with a spark of adventure or maybe even mystery—a little bit of romance might help you, too, if you’re a romantic!
If you prefer audiobooks, there’s no problem with that! Just do something that will help occupy your mind but in a good way.
Remember, reading is never a bad idea! So go ahead and flip those pages and get ready to turn off your teacher’s brain!
No matter how demanding teaching may be, don’t let the stress get the best of you. I know it’s not easy to transition back to your personal life, but with the proper steps and determination, you’ll be able to mentally transition from work mode into fun mode!
Know that you have so much to offer and that with a little time and effort on your part, you’ll be able to nail your work-life balance and learn how to turn off your teacher brain when you need to, ultimately!
Until our next one!