7 Ways to Trick Yourself into Thinking Everything is Great!

It’s early April and I’m already completely
out of motivation. That’s like discovering you’re out of gas in the middle of
Utah on your cross-country road trip. But you don’t have any money because you
spent it all on crab meat in Baltimore, where you started, and you don’t have
your cell phone because you lost it at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in
Missouri (you think you set it down while paying homage to Pa’s fiddle), so you
have to walk the rest of the way, and you can’t hitchhike because it’s
dangerous. And you’re not anywhere close to Las Vegas, so don’t even think
about it. Also, you’re not even in the pretty part of Utah.
I’m done with that comparison now.
Luckily for me, I have found ways of dealing
with being stuck in this proverbial teaching desert by becoming really, really
good at distracting myself. And luckily for you, I’m sharing them!

1) Tiny desk calendar
 
 
Every year I make a tiny desk calendar. It’s
exactly what you think it is—a very small calendar that goes on my desk. There’s
just something about being able to fit the rest of the semester on 1.5 index
cards is very satisfying and hopeful-feeling. (Fun fact—Tiny Desk Calendar also
comes in handy as a reference for planning since it takes about 8 fewer steps
than opening up your Outlook calendar.*)

2) Redecorate your refrigerator
 
 
I’m not wealthy enough to redecorate my
apartment, but I AM wealthy enough to redecorate my refrigerator. I already had
Scrabble tile magnets (you can get them here), and the big pictures I ripped
out of an Anthropologie catalogue instead of buying the products in them. Considering the number of times you go to the refrigerator every day, it’s nice
to have something aesthetic to look at. (The poem is from this one by
e.e. cummings and it’s lovely.)
Also I arranged these things on my
refrigerator for over an hour instead of grading. Amen.
Also those are fake flowers. Who do you think I am, someone who can keep a thing alive?

3) Have your students write thank-you notes one day
 
This never fails to put me in an awesome mood.
Take a few minutes to have your students write (and maybe even decorate?)
thank-you notes for someone at school or home who needs to be shown some
gratitude. I have my students do this a few times a year—once for people who
donate classroom materials, once for people at school who do a lot of “behind
the scenes” stuff without much recognition (cleaning staff, cafeteria staff,
clerks, etc.), and once for people in their families or communities.  Even
if you don’t teach language arts/writing, this activity definitely has literacy
value you should be able to justify for any content area.
The practice of gratitude/creativity puts
students in an awesome mood, and watching your students be gracious puts you in
an awesome mood. Win/win!
4) Listen to a free book on tape during your commute.
 
 
 
Audible.com is basically like iTunes except
for audiobooks. If you register with them, you get a free audiobook to listen
to. After you listen to the free one, you can cancel your subscription OR keep
the subscription and download a new audiobook every month, which is what I do.
It’s an awesome way to make yourself feel like you are actually a normal human
that has time to read books.
I am not a spokesperson for Audible.com, and
if I were they would fire me for encouraging people to cancel their
subscription after one free book.

 5) Surround
yourself with inspiration!
 
For
example, my favorite coffee mug, which you can buy here:
A
banner my friend’s mom made for her that I’m jealous of all the time:
Random doodles to protect the innocent/adorable.
And
these literary quote tattoos that are begging for you to buy them:
6) Look at pictures of
baby animals or vacations.
 
 
 
Sometimes
when I catch myself in a nasty mood before one of my classes, I spend a minute
or two scrolling through my Pinterest boards of baby animals or vacations.
It
always does the trick, except for when it doesn’t. But most of the time it
does.
7) Put your head under
your document camera, look up at it, and freeze it so that your face is on the
screen.
 
Just
trust me on this one. HILARIOUS. Also free.
Don’t
worry. I may be in the desert, but I see a beautiful, crystal clear pool up
ahead with palm trees and a margarita machine.**
Love,
Teach
Footnotes:
*1)
Log in
2)
Open Outlook
3)
Click on calendar tab
4)
Scroll to find date
OKAY,
ONLY FOUR BUT STILL ANNOYING and not pretty.
**May very well be a mirage.