I remember my first four years of teaching at a public school. Difficult situations with parents would simply bring me down for days. The teacher stress was so intense that I always thought about quitting right around April and May .
Ten years later and still teaching, I am excited to share tips for managing teacher stress in the prevent teacher stress section of my blog.
The end of the school year is the most difficult time for all teachers. All great teachers have bad days. It is funny, I wrote a post on handling a phone call home and scripting one. My blog stats skyrocket with people searching for that topic around this time. I know I am not the only one experiencing harder times at work.
However, it is possible to think about your teaching and what you do year- round in order to avoid extra stress at the end of the school year.
Great teachers learn not only how to take care of their students, but also how to take care of themselves! Along with managing all competing demands at your work, you must also learn to minimize difficult emotions and work-related stress. Sometimes taking a step back is the best step forward in effective teaching.
Three Tips for Managing Teacher Stress
1. Counteract Difficult Emotions!
Start practicing the opposite of what you are feeling stressed about. This simple idea can completely change your life as a teacher! The trick is to train your mind to counteract difficult emotions at work. To achieve that, every time you experience something negative, do the opposite of what the problem is about. Look at the negative activities in your practice and see which ones could be paired with positive ones of the same kind. Easier said than done. So let’s look at one example:
Problems with parents are no fun to any teacher! Difficult situations with parents can bring down the most experienced of us. So after making a difficult call home, or after having unexpected negative communications with a parent. re-focus your energy immediately on interacting wit someone in a positive way.
- That can be a colleague that is very positive and I can talk about something different than parent communication.
- Or as soon as I have completed a phone call letting a parent know about classroom disruption, think of another student who did well in class. I would call the second parent congratulating and reinforcing their child’s behavior.
- Make it a fun mental game of paring every negative situation with a positive one.
- Start with small and insignificant situations. This way when a more difficult situation arises, you would have practiced the right mindset It will be easier to overcome difficult emotions.
Instead of carrying the emotional load of a the negative parent communication, you would counteract the feeling with positive communication. This simple switch takes practice. Ad it is more difficult to do when you are in a situation of pain and hurt. This is why I suggest starting as a mental game with insignificant situations. But when done it is so powerful!
I will be writing more about this one idea with stories from different colleagues. Stay tuned!
- Related Reading: Preventing Teacher Burnout This Spring
members. You must open up your schedule to do the things that help you relax and ease the stress out of the school year.
3. Have NO Teacher Talk!
Teaching is sometimes difficult at the end of the school year simply because ALL teachers are tired. Talking to colleagues about work often results in them sharing their frustrations. This can be draining while you have your own work to handle. While you want to support your colleagues, you must also find positive communication outside work. Go out and have a no teacher talk. Learn about these people outside their role as a teacher!
I used to be very frustrated after negative teacher meetings at my school. I would go on with my day over-thinking, over-analyzing, and processing the negativity. What I didn’t realize at the time is that the energy I was putting into it was getting me further from focusing on my students. Now I do what I need to and I do not avoid the issues at my work, but I have also learned to re-focus my energy right after in order to not let the negative energy linger.
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