Dealing With Teacher Stress
Have you ever had one of those days? You know what I am talking about. It starts out with an alarm malfunction and lost keys and spirals down from there. Although I don't have much experience outside of the educational realm, I'm confident that all professions have their ups and downs, that at times we all have to reassure ourselves that we ARE in the correct profession. This post is dedicated to keeping on the sunny side. . . .
With a Little Help From My Friends
One thing I find comforting when I am feeling overwhelmed is hearing a teaching partner voice the same feelings. It makes me realize that I am not alone in this profession. All teachers have tough days. If you are feeling as though you have too much on your plate, find another teacher to talk to about it. Your spouse will most likely thank you, too. (I realized this one day when my husband, who never shares work frustrations, decided one day to share them with me at length. It made me think, "This is what he has to endure from me? Poor thing!") Talk to someone who understands. Most likely, that's the teacher in your hallway.
Just Say "No"!
I have written about approval addiction at length before, in what was probably the hardest post I ever wrote. Learn to say "no." Do your best. Forget the rest. Read more in that approval addiction post from last year.
Find a Hobby
I attended a session on working with perfectionist students, who suffer higher rates of depression, and one of the suggestions was to encourage these students to participate in an athletic program outside of school*. Among other benefits, it helps the student split their intense focus on academics. I imagine many teachers deal with this kind of anxiety on some level. Teaching can consume our lives. If we let it. It may sound counterintuitive to deal with this by adding something else to your life, but you have to do it. You have to do it. Let me repeat this again: You have to do it! If I made time to train and run a full marathon last Saturday, anyone can do it. Running requires me to balance out my life and prioritize, and it makes me create a better time line of my day.
*Note: There are some benefits to having perfectionist students in your classroom. Think Peyton Manning, for example, who excelled both in academics and athletics. I will provide a post on this subject during the month of February. Perfectionist doesn't have to be a negative term.
Will This Matter in Five Years?
I'm sure my husband is relieved that he hasn't uttered these words to me this year; maybe I am finally learning my lesson. When you are feeling as though everything is stacked up against you, ask yourself if it is going to matter in five years. That is how I stop myself from worrying now. Last year, after my computer crashed — taking my grades with them — I thought my students' parents would revolt. I worried myself to the bone before informing my principal and asking for assistance. I had lost three weeks' worth of grades, and she calmly helped me figure out how to write parents about my error. Despite all those worries, I received email after email (after email) making light of the situation, joking about their memory of all As and so on. Not a single parent was upset. Not one. In the big scheme of things, it wasn't that important. (Oddly enough, my district's tech. team mysteriously found my grades on my fried laptop weeks later, and they're still confused about how they managed to do it.)
And Above All . . .
Don't forget why you entered this profession! We all have countless stories that make us laugh until we cry, tug at our heart, and make us feel as though we are doing our little part in this world.
So, what keeps you going in the classroom? Feel free to share your tips and stories below.