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January 18, 2017 15 Ways to Reduce Teacher Stress By Nancy Jang
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    All teachers have more work than just teaching kids during the regular school day. There is prep for the next day, filing IEP paperwork, correcting tests, editing essays, professional development, photocopying, and completing adjunct duties. Then there is cleaning and organizing materials, putting up bulletin boards, and planning. The work can be never-ending and even consume your life if you let it.

    Letting stress and all the minutia of teaching creep into all aspects of your life is a recipe for burnout and an unhappy teacher. Well my friends, I am about to spill some of my best kept secrets to help you love teaching and have a life outside of teaching too:

    1. Close the door during prep time. So many times, a colleague stops by to chat after-school during my prep time, and before you know, it a half hour goes by and I have nothing done. I close my door to let others know I am not available to chat.

    2. Make a SHORT and DOABLE "Must Do" and a "May Do" list for yourself. Items on the "Must Do" list are high priority and must be done immediately. The "May Do" list is there if I have a few extra minutes of prep. If I don’t get to it, I can try and get to it in the next day or two.

    3. Delegate items to parent volunteers if you have them. Items like pencil sharpening, tracing, photocopying, and cleaning are easy to let a parent volunteer do for you.

    4. Lay out your outfit and prep your healthy, yummy lunch the night before. In the morning when you are in a hurry, it’s just grab and go! I go a step further and try to make BIG dinners where the leftovers can be used for lunches a few days in a row, such as lasagna.

    5. Get a full eight hours of sleep. The iPhone has a cool feature that allows you to set a reminder to yourself to get ready to go to bed to get the amount of sleep you designate.

    6. Don’t correct every single piece of paper. Sometimes it’s okay to give the paper a once over to check for understanding and then throw it in the trash or return it to the student.

    7. Work out. It helps alleviate stress, gives you energy, helps you sleep better, and is great for decompressing.

    8. Get up early. I changed my work outs to 6 a.m. (even though I’m not a morning person) and it was the best thing I ever did. I had more energy during the day at school and I had more time after-school to prep without worrying that I was missing the gym.

    9. Stay away from negativity. We all have colleagues that are constantly gossiping, complaining, and venting. Try and avoid these people. Instead, find colleagues that inspire you and get to know them, spend time with them, and connect with them. They will lift your spirits, share ideas, and just give you that warm fuzzy feeling. Seek them out.

    10. Don’t take things home (except during report card and conference time). I used to lug a huge rolling teacher cart home every day. (Raise your hand if you have one of those!) Then when I got home, I graded, planned, and prepped. I added another two-plus hours to my day and was exhausted by how much work still had to do.

    11. Plan time every week/day to enjoy something that is not remotely related to teaching. Spend time with your family and friends, travel, work on your garden, read for pleasure, watch a movie, take a hike, go to the museum or just spend some time having FUN! We spend so much time working, preparing for work, and thinking about work, that it sometimes becomes our whole being. Learn how to turn off being a teacher. Balance is important. Having hobbies and balancing your time to just be YOU (not the teacher you) allows you to be renewed and have more mental energy for your students.

    12. Learn something new! Continue to grow in your profession, but choose to grow personally too. I took up playing the ukulele and began to train to complete the Spartan Trifecta. I also started to bake and took painting classes.

    13. Plan a trip. Even if you don’t have time or money, plan it anyway. It will relax you to look at pictures of places and fun activities and maybe someday YOU WILL go on that trip!

    14. Don’t overcommit yourself! This one was especially hard for me. I was always the person that said yes to everything. You need another committee member, I can do it. There is a student teacher that you need assigned? Sure, I can take her. You want me to plan the parent volunteer appreciation party? Okay. You need a teacher to pilot three different math programs? Absolutely, I’m your girl. Then I became overwhelmed with all the extras, that I was dropping the ball right and left. Take it from me, it’s ok to say "no, thank you." Pick one or two that interest you and do that job well!

    15. Take 10 minutes a day and meditate. If you don’t like the word meditate, then take 10 minutes to sit quietly and consciously clear your mind. Relax every part of your body and breathe deeply.

    Remember, to be the best teacher that you can be, you have to be your best self. Take care of yourself and make yourself a priority!

    Happy teaching,

    Nancy

    All teachers have more work than just teaching kids during the regular school day. There is prep for the next day, filing IEP paperwork, correcting tests, editing essays, professional development, photocopying, and completing adjunct duties. Then there is cleaning and organizing materials, putting up bulletin boards, and planning. The work can be never-ending and even consume your life if you let it.

    Letting stress and all the minutia of teaching creep into all aspects of your life is a recipe for burnout and an unhappy teacher. Well my friends, I am about to spill some of my best kept secrets to help you love teaching and have a life outside of teaching too:

    1. Close the door during prep time. So many times, a colleague stops by to chat after-school during my prep time, and before you know, it a half hour goes by and I have nothing done. I close my door to let others know I am not available to chat.

    2. Make a SHORT and DOABLE "Must Do" and a "May Do" list for yourself. Items on the "Must Do" list are high priority and must be done immediately. The "May Do" list is there if I have a few extra minutes of prep. If I don’t get to it, I can try and get to it in the next day or two.

    3. Delegate items to parent volunteers if you have them. Items like pencil sharpening, tracing, photocopying, and cleaning are easy to let a parent volunteer do for you.

    4. Lay out your outfit and prep your healthy, yummy lunch the night before. In the morning when you are in a hurry, it’s just grab and go! I go a step further and try to make BIG dinners where the leftovers can be used for lunches a few days in a row, such as lasagna.

    5. Get a full eight hours of sleep. The iPhone has a cool feature that allows you to set a reminder to yourself to get ready to go to bed to get the amount of sleep you designate.

    6. Don’t correct every single piece of paper. Sometimes it’s okay to give the paper a once over to check for understanding and then throw it in the trash or return it to the student.

    7. Work out. It helps alleviate stress, gives you energy, helps you sleep better, and is great for decompressing.

    8. Get up early. I changed my work outs to 6 a.m. (even though I’m not a morning person) and it was the best thing I ever did. I had more energy during the day at school and I had more time after-school to prep without worrying that I was missing the gym.

    9. Stay away from negativity. We all have colleagues that are constantly gossiping, complaining, and venting. Try and avoid these people. Instead, find colleagues that inspire you and get to know them, spend time with them, and connect with them. They will lift your spirits, share ideas, and just give you that warm fuzzy feeling. Seek them out.

    10. Don’t take things home (except during report card and conference time). I used to lug a huge rolling teacher cart home every day. (Raise your hand if you have one of those!) Then when I got home, I graded, planned, and prepped. I added another two-plus hours to my day and was exhausted by how much work still had to do.

    11. Plan time every week/day to enjoy something that is not remotely related to teaching. Spend time with your family and friends, travel, work on your garden, read for pleasure, watch a movie, take a hike, go to the museum or just spend some time having FUN! We spend so much time working, preparing for work, and thinking about work, that it sometimes becomes our whole being. Learn how to turn off being a teacher. Balance is important. Having hobbies and balancing your time to just be YOU (not the teacher you) allows you to be renewed and have more mental energy for your students.

    12. Learn something new! Continue to grow in your profession, but choose to grow personally too. I took up playing the ukulele and began to train to complete the Spartan Trifecta. I also started to bake and took painting classes.

    13. Plan a trip. Even if you don’t have time or money, plan it anyway. It will relax you to look at pictures of places and fun activities and maybe someday YOU WILL go on that trip!

    14. Don’t overcommit yourself! This one was especially hard for me. I was always the person that said yes to everything. You need another committee member, I can do it. There is a student teacher that you need assigned? Sure, I can take her. You want me to plan the parent volunteer appreciation party? Okay. You need a teacher to pilot three different math programs? Absolutely, I’m your girl. Then I became overwhelmed with all the extras, that I was dropping the ball right and left. Take it from me, it’s ok to say "no, thank you." Pick one or two that interest you and do that job well!

    15. Take 10 minutes a day and meditate. If you don’t like the word meditate, then take 10 minutes to sit quietly and consciously clear your mind. Relax every part of your body and breathe deeply.

    Remember, to be the best teacher that you can be, you have to be your best self. Take care of yourself and make yourself a priority!

    Happy teaching,

    Nancy

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