5 Stress Reduction Strategies for Teachers
There is little doubt that being a teacher is a highly rewarding…yet very demanding job. When teachers are at work all their time is essentially spent with the children. While being with the kids is what they love, and drove them to the profession in the first place, it is also extremely time consuming. Unfortunately for teachers their jobs involve much more than being with their students and these many other components are done outside instructional time. Teachers must plan effective and engaging lessons which are differentiated and meet the needs of all their students, assess and evaluate student progress in a timely manner, coach and run a variety of clubs, manage endless “new initiatives, complete an ever-increasing load of paperwork and communicate regularly with parents and colleagues. I could keep going with this list as it is virtually endless! Considering these factors, it comes as no surprise that teachers are at a very high risk for becoming extremely overwhelmed and potentially “burning out.” In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 45% of teachers leave the profession after their first five years on the job. (1) This is the sad truth, yet there are a number of steps teachers can take to avoid this fate. I have listed below 5 top strategies which will allow teachers to manage stress and stay healthy on the job and at home.
1. Time Management:
I wrote an article not too long ago about time management for teachers. I would consider lack of time, and the inability to manage it, to be a top contributing factor to teacher burnout. The endless demands of the job, coupled with very busy personal lives create a very high stress level for teachers. That being said, there are a number of steps that teachers can take in order to manage their time better. Selective grading, subject integration of units, proper use of technology, learning to say no, collaboration with others and using those little “snippets” of time wisely are all solid strategies. These tips will helps with time management and alleviate that awful and very stressful feeling of there never being enough time to do things properly!
2. Leave Work at Work:
Many times I have told colleagues that when you go home for the day you have to leave work at work! Establishing that much needed balance between work and your personal life is of critical importance. This does not mean that you will never have to grade assignments or plan when you go home. What it does mean however is that when you go home you find that much needed balance. Get the job out of your head. Your family needs you too and spending that much needed time with them is great for your family…and you!
3. Build a Network With Colleagues:
Your biggest support network other than your family will be your colleagues. Collaboration can assist in a number of ways. It can provide teaching tips, techniques, strategies and resources. In fact, with the ever increasing role of technology teachers can now access colleagues from around the globe with such things as Edmodo, Thinkfinity, Twitter and Facebook. Collaboration can also deliver a much needed sympathetic ear in difficult times from someone who truly understands the difficulties and intense demands teachers typically encounter. Be careful however not to get caught up in negativity. Always look for the good in situations and positive growth will follow.
4. Take Care of Your Health:
This one is pretty obvious. As the saying goes…”if you do not have your health you do not have anything.” By applying time management strategies properly, you should be able to devote more time to your personal health. Get more sleep, eat right and exercise. Not only will this improve your physical and emotional well being, but it will mean you will have that much needed energy and spark at school. This is ultimately a win-win for everyone.
5. Be Positive:
Negativity breeds more negativity…that is a proven fact. One of the most effective ways that teachers can actually reduce stress is by remaining positive. Granted, this can be easier said than done at times. However, if we remember why we are in the profession in the first place and treasure that, it makes all the difference. Celebrate in the accomplishments of your students and accept the praise that comes from your students and parents alike. There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing is more rewarding than watching student growth. I have been in the profession for two decades and have been visited by former students who are now doctors, teachers and nurses. This is what it is all about and it is totally sustaining and fulfilling. Block the negativity and embrace the positive.
There will always be a high degree of stress in the teaching profession, that is the nature of the beast. However, by managing this stress proactively teachers will become happier, healthier and more fulfilled both at work and at home. This in turn is a winning solution for all stakeholders.
1. Public Education Faces a Crisis in Teacher Retention. Claudia Graziano. http://www.edutopia.org/schools-out