Ten Ways to Practice Lagom for Teachers
Hey, y'all. I'm sure you've seen the word hygge before (I may have written a post or two about it ;) ), but do you know Lagom? It's a Swedish word meaning "not too little, not too much." In the teacher world, we call that balance, but I like the term lagom better.
It's not just about balance. It's about using what you can and getting rid of the rest. It's about the necessities. It's about...peace.
How can teachers practice lagom?
1. Clean out your supply closet
I know you might NEED that foam board for that one project one day. But if you haven't used it in a few years, it's time to make like Frozen and let it go! Keep what you use all the time and purge the rest. The free space will feel invigorating! (But that doesn't mean you need to go shopping and fill it back up again!)
2. Organize your desk/teacher area
I KNOW there are things you can purge there. I have so much junk I hold onto just in case and I know you do, too. Cleaning this area and taming the clutter will free your mind to focus on other things. Studies have shown that people struggle to focus when there is a lot of clutter. Get rid of it.
3. When it comes to your walls, be a minimalist
The clutter on walls can distract your students, making your job even tougher (we don't need that). Before you hang it on your walls, decide if it really needs to be there or if there are better ways to display things. When it comes to student work, I display it in specific places in the classroom so it doesn't overwhelm my students and myself. I keep posters to a minimum and I'm selective about what I hang up. I keep pictures the students give me in a binder with page protectors and store it in the classroom library. Follow the KISS method: keep it simple silly.
4. Leave on time
This can be a tough one. I tend to arrive early and get myself mentally prepared for the day, and I almost always leave right after the kids. When I had to stay until a certain time after school, I did whatever prep work needed to be done for the next day while I waited for that magic number on the clock and walked out when it was time. I know this can be challenging for many of us, but leaving on time helps you create boundaries for your work/home life--boundaries you need to have!
5. Be cautious about taking work home
I lesson plan better at home. It's just quieter there with fewer interruptions. I used to bring work home all the time because I wasn't maximizing my prep times. Now, I only bring home papers to grade in a pinch and I only bring home TEs when absolutely necessary. Deciding to leave work at work has helped be exponentially in setting boundaries for work and making sure my family gets what they need from me when I'm at home.
6. Maximize your prep times
I know meetings can fill up these times pretty quickly. Last week, I had a meeting almost everyday during planning time. Fortunately, weeks like this don't happen very often. When you use your prep time for its intended purpose--preparing, grading, planning rather than talking with colleagues--you will have less work to bring home or reasons to stay late.
7. Take a break
Eat your lunch without working at the same time. Take a coffee break if you can. Take a walk around the playground during recess duty and get a breath of fresh air. Clear your mind. In doing so, you'll be able to lower your stress levels and enjoy your students and teaching more. You'll also be able to work more productively when you allow yourself some downtime. No one is a machine. We all need breaks throughout the day.
8. Do something not school-related
As teachers, we tend to live and breathe school. We attend events, we work like no other profession, we think about the kids and school until the moment we fall asleep. When we do things not school-related, like gardening, working out, traveling, Netflixing, etc., we gain balance in our lives and allow ourselves to regroup and recharge.
9. Learn to say "no"
Sometimes we feel pressured to say "yes" to everything we're asked to do. As teachers, many of us are overachievers and people pleasers. But when we try to please everyone else, we often are the ones left unhappy. Saying "no" to the things that would overwhelm us or completely fill up our plate not only helps us set boundaries, it also helps us be selective in the tasks we chose to do. Some administrators don't like to hear the word "no," but most will be appreciative of the strength it takes to make those choices.
10. Practice self-care
Self-care in its very nature is lagom. It's not spending too much time on one thing in order to take care of you. I mean, it's really hard to get your nails done or go to a yoga class while you're grading papers. When you practice self-care, you allow your mind to take a break. Even if it wanders to a certain student or that one lesson, your mind will be more relaxed and able to think more clearly about the problem or task.
If you're wanting to know more about Lagom in all areas of your life, I recommend reading this book. Lagom, hygge, lykke, and (my favorite) fika (affiliate links) are all Scandinavian words that focus on slowing down, enjoying the little things, and appreciating the here and now. Being an American, I totally appreciate these ideas and desperately needed to read these books when I did. Pinterest has a ton of ideas as well, but I highly recommend reading the books for a better understanding.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found some tools you can use in your everyday life. If your stress levels are through the roof like mine were, actively trying to incorporate these ideas into your life will be a game changer. I hope you have a wonderful week and stay tuned for more ideas coming soon.