I've learned to go with the flow, keep going, and focus on doing your best no matter what the day brings. I can be prepared for most situations, but I will never be prepared for every situation.
The snake on the sidewalk, a student handing me a condom he found outside, getting three new students with special needs in one day, and a few other unusual situations have thrown me for a loop. Just take a deep breath, stay calm, do what's necessary, and then move on.
When I first started teaching, I thought I had to do it all myself and do it perfectly. I felt like a failure when I didn't. I still get frustrated at myself when I make mistakes, but I am not nearly so hard on myself.
Now I know sometimes it comes down to laughing or crying. Laugh (even at yourself). I've also learned to ask for help, accept it when it's offered, and seek ways to reduce the load.
Speaking of reducing the load, as a first year teacher, I wanted the classroom to be fun for the kids so badly that I didn't make it fun for me. Just because an activity would be great for the students doesn't mean you should do it.
Find a balance between great activities that may require a lot of preparation and those that still get the material across without the extra work. While classrooms should be engaging, every activity doesn't have to be over the top special. The kids will be happier if you have a life outside of school and are not crazy stressed. Balance is essential.
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