Increasing levels of stress is the leading cause for teachers to take time off or leave the profession entirely. Teaching is a compassionate profession. We take our job to heart. We educate, nurse, counsel, moderate and love. We get stressed.
What can we do to handle work related stress so that our jobs and personal lives won’t be a disaster?
Here are some stress- busting strategies that can get you through every school year.
• Come to work on time. Getting to work early will lower your morning stress. You can review your daily lessons and relax before the bell rings.
• Plan and be prepared. Planning will cut down on the stress of writing lesson plans. You may want to plan two weeks at a time. Some grade levels share planning. Each person will plan for one subject and collaborate at grade level meetings.
• Create a consistent routine for your classroom. Students should know what to do the minute they step into your classroom. Teachers that do not establish a firm and consistent routine from day one are in danger of creating stress in their classrooms.
• Create a class community. Students want to be heard and respected.
• Laughter is great therapy. Charlie Chaplin says, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
• Be consistent and focused. Students can pick up on a scattered unorganized teacher. This type of environment can give students an opportunity to misbehave.
• Teaching is a learning experience. It’s ok to admit that you made a mistake to your students, your colleagues and your administration.
• Manage your time. Break your workload into smaller tasks.
• Set the tone for your classroom. Model how you want your classroom to flow.
• Make a to-do list. Your list can be daily or weekly. Get ready to check off your list and feel a sense of accomplishment and less stress.
• Teaching is not a competition. We teach to do the best for our students. Trying to stand out to gain recognition from your administration, parents or other teachers creates stress. Principals are more impressed by teachers that lead and accomplish tasks as a grade level or committee.
• Learn to take constructive criticism. Don’t take it so personal. Every school should have a mentor, fellow veteran teachers or staff that can critique your lessons, help with your delivery or lend a word of advice. Take the help.
• Learn to say “No!” We feel honored to be asked to lead a committee or project. Taking on more than you can handle can lead to unnecessary stress.
• Go home. Staying late every night does not make you a master teacher. It makes you a stressed-out teacher. Pick and choose your late days to stay after work.
• Exhale at the end of each day. Reflect on the positive influences that you have made on your students today. Remind yourself that you are making a difference.