Updated: Oct 7, 2021
Teaching can be such a rewarding and wonderful profession, but it, unfortunately, comes with some inevitable stressors. Teachers work long (often unpaid) hours and have to manage many personalities and learning styles. There are huge increases in workload during certain times of the year (report cards for example) and by the time June hits, the kids are mostly checked out and not really listening.
It’s not an easy job!
I know for me, the day of my children's birthday parties is usually the most stressful day of the year! A little embarrassing to admit, but I’m just not used to handling that many kids at once. Needless to say, I really admire what teachers do day in and day out.
I’ve put together some coping strategies specifically tailored to teachers’ experiences and stress, so for you teachers out there, I hope you find this helpful…
1. Ground yourself at least once a day.
Have you ever noticed that certain teachers command the attention of the students so much easier than others? They have that certain presence that leads the kids to respect, listen and do their best.
If you’re looking to develop that presence (and who wouldn’t!?), the best way to do it is to be grounded. Grounded energy means that you’re connected to the present moment and if you’re grounded, you’re much more likely to feel empowered, confident, relaxed, focused and “in the zone.”
A simple exercise for grounding is this:
sit quietly and take a few deep breaths. As you breathe in, you can imagine peace, relaxation and calm spreading through your body. As you breathe out, you release all stress and negativity. After a minute or two of doing this, you want to bring your attention to the top of your head. Now imagine pressing all of the energy from the top of your head slowly down your body, all the way down into your feet. When you get to your feet, you want to imagine roots growing out from the bottom of your feet and going down into the center of the earth. These roots spread out to be as wide as your classroom. At the end of this exercise, you will likely feel calm and very centred.
If you work on using this exercise every day before the kids arrive and again halfway through the day, you’ll start to notice that you’re commanding more respect and attention from the kids, due to your grounded energy.
2. Batch your tasks.
Your teachers are busy! You’ve got a lot of stuff to do…marking, prepping, planning, evaluating, meeting. One thing that research tells us is that we tend to accomplish more if we do one thing at a time. Humans are not great multitaskers and it takes a lot of time to get back on track after getting interrupted.
So what I recommend is, as much as possible, try to batch your tasks. Check email 2 to 3 times a day, max, at set times (before school, a quick check at lunch and once at the end of the day, for example). Do all your classroom prep in one sitting for the week, if you can swing it. Set specific times at home to do your marking and really stick to those times. You’ll find that if you batch your tasks in whatever ways you can, you’ll be more efficient and experience less stress and more mental clarity.
3. Beware of “off times” and set a plan.
There are likely some times in your day where the kids get a bit off track. Maybe they’re hangry, maybe you’re hangry! Perhaps they’re just at the end of their rope with sitting and learning.
Think about these times of the day and brainstorm any possible ways that you can make these times a bit more bearable. It’s always a good idea to prevent these situations from happening in the first place. For example, maybe they need a stretching break a few minutes before that time. Maybe you need to shuffle around the usual routine to make the day go more smoothly. If you can’t think of any solutions, talk to some of your teaching friends and see if anyone else has some ideas.
4. Set intentions for the day.
I have to say that I’m always amazed at the power of intentions. I set intentions in my journaling practice every morning and these really help to guide me to have a more positive, aligned day. (If you want to learn more about morning routines, check out my blog post on that topic here.)
Think about how you want to show up as a teacher and make an intention statement that you can use every day to help guide you to be the best you can be. If you’re struggling with this one, you might want to reflect on what led you to choose this career in the first place.
Some examples of intentions could be, “I will be present with the kids, I will have clarity in my thoughts and I will be calm and reasonable in my responses to tricky situations.” Or you could try, “I will enjoy this day with my kids and be a teacher that they remember as making a huge difference in their lives.”
Come up with an intention that’s meaningful to you, and either read or write it every morning before class.
So there you go teachers. I appreciate all that you do for our kids and I hope this helps you to make your day just a little bit smoother!
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