Stress is inevitable in teaching. We worry about creating relevant curriculum, delivering outstanding instruction, establishing effective classroom management, dealing with discipline issues, making deadlines, completing paperwork, contacting parents, finding time to collaborate, grading, and the list goes on and on. It’s important to keep a healthy balance in your life, especially as a student teacher.
Below are some resources to assist you in managing stress in your life. Share your tips, strategies, and/or resources by commenting or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Weather is warm. The classroom is energized. Students are anxious. Teachers are weary.
Breathe teachers. We are almost at the end of the year. In midst of your exhausting run to the finish line, make sure you take time for yourself and significant others.
Quick pick-me ups:
- Sit in the sun (especially important for us in the NW)
- Read an article (not related to education)
- Call or email an old friend
- Shop for a gift for a friend
- Eat ice cream
- Walk in a park
- Schedule time in for “fun”–it may sound strange to schedule this in, but if it isn’t scheduled ahead of time, it will be the first thing to go;
- Keep healthy snacks in your classroom–donuts, chocolate, sweets, pizza, and other snacks seem to abound in the education world and too often I have relied on these to get me through the day, so keeping granola bars or trail mix within reach is a nice alternative;
- Eating right outside of school–taking the time to cook something good for you seems like the last thing you want to do at the end of the day, but it will make a difference. Tip: make meals ahead of time that you can freeze and pull out during the week to save time;
- Exercise–find time for this no matter what. Even if it’s just going for a brief walk at the end of the day before you sit down to grade papers, it will help you recharge and re-energize;
- Find a stress management “buddy”–if you have a tough time doing any of the above on your own (like me), ask a friend or family member for support in any or all of the above areas. If you can’t find anyone you already know, pair up with another new teacher–they will more than likely thank you since they will be in the same situation.
Above all, take care of yourself first. It may seem impossible to do some of the above in the beginning, but once you do, you will notice a difference!
1. You must decide how much time you will spend at school after school. New teachers often fall into the trap of living at school until late in the evening, every evening. You have to leave. Set a time that you will leave every night, and stick to it. For a new teacher, 2 hours after school lets out is both realistic and the maximum amount of time you should be spending after school every day. After that point, it is important that you go home and do something besides school work. Even just taking a break for an hour or two to work out (or have a drink) is crucial to both your mental and physical health. This is probably the most common mistake I see new teachers making and the one that will lead to burnout the fastest.
2. You have to understand that it may take you a while to get things graded, and that’s ok. Unless your district has a hard and fast policy on this, DO NOT stress out about it. Your students may bother you about it, but again, you have to draw the line. It took me about 6 years to work out a system that worked for me, and I wish I had worked it out much sooner. Some things that have worked for me and for others: set aside half an hour or 45 minutes after school to work on grading, or maybe grade only one class period’s work, or even just grade 10 papers during your prep period. Make it a habit, and you will be done before you know it. Do not take work home unless you absolutely cannot avoid it – it can potentially get lost and you will work on that instead of relaxing like you should.
3. Find a hobby. I like to sew, some people volunteer, others work out, cook, go out with friends, watch movies, or play games. Whatever you like, make time for it at least three times a week to avoid burnout. Ideally, do something that uses a different part of your brain than you use while you teach. All teachers can identify with needing time to themselves after school. You are in a profession which requires you to be in constant communication with needy and demanding people who need you all the time. You have to make time to decompress.
When you start to feel your body wearing down and your stress is sky-high, then I would recommend taking Emergen-C. It’s been a life-saver, preventing me from being run down and getting sick. You simply pour the powder into your water. You can pick it up at your local pharmacy or at Amazon.com.