Avoiding Overwhelm By Focusing On The Wonderful Joy Of Teaching

As teachers & studio owners, avoiding overwhelm is about finding the joy of teaching each day.  We want to create the best experience for our students & their families.  But, there are times when that backfires.  Especially during times of change.  Instead of fun & joy, our days are filled with a series of tasks that “have” to get done.  Our minds are filled with judgement or worry that we aren’t living up to what others are offering in their studios.

Moving from overwhelm to fun

My husband has often pointed out that giving less than my all just isn’t in my DNA.  Even the idea of doing something “good enough”, especially if it’s for someone else, can be enough to trigger stress.  But, is this healthy?  On the one hand, it’s great for quality control & personal improvement.  On the other hand, this desire to give my all can quickly snowball into overwhelm.  And, that’s not great for anyone.

A perfect example of this is when I moved my studio online.  This wasn’t a slow, careful process.  This was a “we can’t be in person, so we are moving online right now” situation.  (I know many teachers can relate.)

I was so overwhelmed when I first taught online.  There were so many things competing for my attention & energy!

  • Learning the tech
  • Helping students & their families transition to online learning
  • Figuring out systems for sharing resources & music

And, all this had to happen while keeping things fun & light for students.  I was exhausted! And, the joy of teaching … well, it started to go by the wayside.

Adding the fun back in

Avoiding overwhelm in those early days wasn’t easy.  And, it wasn’t always possible as I learnt, experimented, failed & experimented some more.

“Mistakes & failures are guaranteed, but it is how we choose to educate ourselves after we stumble that molds who we become.”

~ Bella Forrest

Mistakes or failures don’t have to be a waste of time.  If they are part of the learning process, make it fun!

It took a bit, but now I know how to combine the best parts of in-person teaching with online tools so I can maximize lesson time & have fun at the same time!

While the process wasn’t always easy, there were plenty of laughs along the way!

Tips for avoiding overwhelm

Wouldn’t it be great to be excited about work each day?  Whether you teach in-person or online, you deserve to enjoy the work you do (at least most of the time).  You can’t always control the circumstances around you.  However, there are ways to add fun back into your teaching regardless of what is happening around you.

And, be sure to let me know in the comments which of these 3 tips works best for you!

1. Take things one step at a time.

When I first moved online, it often felt like I was a duck on the water.  On the surface, it looked like I had everything all figured out.  But under the surface, I was paddling my little palmates (webbed 3-toed feet) for all I was worth!  And, occasionally I looked like a panicked duck that got startled by … well, no one knows for sure.

It can be easy to get caught up in all the steps necessary to reach a goal or make a transition to a new way of doing things.  Avoiding overwhelm requires a different approach.

Take things one step at a time.  Don’t worry about the other million & one other things that need to happen.  Just focus on making this one step as fun & easy as possible.

For a planner like me, this is not easy.  I thrive on to-do lists & spreadsheets that break down all my projects.  Especially when I get to check them off.  Staying focused on the task at hand is much easier said than done.  But, it does improve productivity & help you avoid overwhelm better than anything else. Plus, it’s the best way to ensure your joy of teaching doesn’t flag!

By taking things one step at a time, your palmates (to go back to our duck analogy) can keep you moving forward while you look calm on the surface.  All without the panicked flapping to signal things are not alright.

2.  Add one thing at a time

Yes, it would be fantastic to test out several streaming platforms for the best setup, add multiple camera angles, including digital games for online lessons & host a virtual recital in your studio.  But, not all at once.

Look at what will bring you (or your students) the most benefit right now.   Focus on that ONE thing.

If you are exhausted by the end of the day, look at why.  Straining to hear students?  Focus on improving audio.  When students consistently say they can’t see what you are showing, focus on improving how you demonstrate & the tools you use to show this. 

If you are worried about losing students, look at what is triggering that fear.  If you see your students losing interest in lessons, add music lab or purchase digital games (like escape rooms) to start adding fun back into lessons.  When you are ready, learn to create your own.  If parents are not seeing the value of lessons, give them a chance to brag with a recital (either in-person or virtual) or other studio activities.

Be creative in how you change things up. And, if you’re wondering if you’re creative, click here to find out your unique approach. Especially if your joy of teaching has disappeared or is at an all-time low. You deserve to love what you do!

It’s all about helping you make the most impact with the least amount of effort.  And, wouldn’t we all like things to feel a little more effortless?  Yes!

3. Do what works best for YOU

The internet is full of amazing ideas.  It is also full of amazing ideas that no one person can possibly hope to implement in their lifetime.  (Please don’t take that as a challenge.)

As much as I love researching new ideas, I’ve learnt the value of “doing”.  Even if I don’t have everything figured out quite yet.  And since I’m all about avoiding overwhelm I do my best to limit the number of projects I give myself.  As my twins get older, I’ve been able to comfortably take on more projects.  When they were very little, that wouldn’t have been the case.  

You have your own level of preferred busyness, approach to handling things, & stage of life.  What worked best for you a few years ago may not work now.  Think about what makes your studio unique.  It’s your personality, approach & general awesomeness that brings your studio to life.

It’s all about figuring out what works best for you & what is going on in your life right now.

Rather than comparing yourself to other studios or other teachers, focus on the things that are important to you.

Taking the overwhelm out of lessons

One of the best ways to take avoid overwhelm is to focus on the wonderful joys of teaching. Yes, there are hard parts & parts you want to avoid … even if it means picking lint out of the carpet (or another equivalent). I feel the same way about certain parts of my business.

Every time that I’ve focused on coming from a place of creativity & exploration, the joy & fun in my studio come back. It means giving myself grace when things don’t work out & encouraging my students to do the same for themselves.

I believe that each person is creative. Some have just learnt to harness their approach in more efficient ways.

If you would like to harness YOUR unique approach to creativity, just click the button below to access a free, short quiz on “What Type of Creative Type Am I?”

NOTE: This article was originally published on January 13, 2021. It’s since been updated to reflect new ideas … but still has the great stuff from the original as well.

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