Nicole Hanlon, OFLA Beginning Teachers Chair
French Teacher, Buckeye Valley High School
Fall is officially upon us! With the changing in the colors of the leaves and the arrival of boots, scarves, and cooler weather comes the season of DEVOLSON. DEVOLSON is an acronym invented by the teacher blogger Love, Teach and stands for “Dark and Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November.” The name is kind of funny, but, as Love, Teach mentions in her original 2012 blog on the subject, it stands for the time of the year where she finds that “teachers are the busiest, craziest, and, usually the saddest.” It’s easy to start the year full of energy and anticipation and riding on the high of the new year, but as September winds down and we start to relax into our routines, the demands of teaching and life can make us tired and the stress can start to pile up.
I remember as a new teacher, when this feeling started to settle in. I panicked, thinking something was wrong with me. It was an immense relief to find out that I wasn’t alone in my stress at this time of the year.
So, with this edition of the Cardinal, I just want to encourage you to take care of yourself during this season. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing everything perfectly or for feeling overwhelmed. Teaching is an important job with lots of moving parts and it’s almost impossible to always have all of your plates spinning in the air at the same time.
With that, here are a few of my suggestions for making it through this “DEVOLSON” season and holding on to that spark as we power through the last 90 days of the year:
1. Get moving. Even if it’s just standing up from my desk and taking a lap or two of my building, getting my blood moving always helps me to reduce my stress and clear my head.
2. Make time to do something fun. I know with teaching it’s easy to think that we have to work all the time. There’s always something we could be doing better or tweaking to help our students learn. But, it’s important to still make time for you. Our energy is contagious for the students, so we should keep it up by making time for a few activities that feed our souls and not just our teaching plans. As an added bonus, if you do anything fun on the weekend, it makes for good target language small talk in the next class.
3. Done is sometimes enough. This is kind of a corollary to #2. Sometimes, just having a lesson ready or making an activity is good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect or shiny or brilliant every single day. Students just appreciate it when we show up for them. It’s hard to keep showing up and being there for them if we’re exhausted and burnt out.
4. Connect with friends or colleagues. Feeling alone or isolated in these feelings can make it all seem worse. Find good friends or colleagues you can share your thoughts with or connect with other new teachers in our OFLA Beginning Teachers FB group. Just having an outlet to share how you’re feeling can sometimes make the load seem a lot lighter.
5. Check out a podcast. There are lots of podcasts on teaching and on living life that help speak a little bit of truth and encouragement into your stress during this time of year. A few of my personal favorites are the Rise podcast, Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers, or Bill Van Patten’s Tea with BVP for information and research on language acquisition.
And, if you want more ideas on how to survive (and maybe even thrive?) this time of year, check out Love, Teach’s updated post on her ideas for getting through this time of year.
Just remember, teaching can be hard, but you aren’t alone and you can do it!