By Teachers, For Teachers
Stress is inevitable, especially when you are a teacher. Students will act up, you have a million things on your classroom management to-do list, and lessons need to planned and executed. All of these things come with the job, and we know that, but it doesn’t make it easy. While being a teacher is stressful, there are some things that you can do to relieve some of that stress. For starters, how you use classroom management to respond to it can make a world of difference. Here are five classroom management techniques to help you better deal with stress. Give them a try today, and let us know how you feel.
Developing a sense of gratitude trains the brain to focus on the good, not the bad. It’s not about forcing yourself to be grateful for the negative things, but it’s about noticing the little things -- like the feeling you get when the sun is on your face, how your colleague brought you coffee this morning, or how your students think so much of you that they took the time to draw you a picture. It’s the opportunity you give yourself to be present in each waking moment. Research even shows that the more that you practice gratitude, the more that it becomes second nature to you. Start each morning by thinking of three things that you are grateful for today. Then, as you go about your day, try and savor each moment. Take advantage of what life has to offer you, day by day, and moment by moment.
As you go about your day, you may notice that your breathing changes as your feelings change. One minute the students will be reading silently and the classroom is quiet (so is your breathing), and the next moment your students are working on a project and it becomes loud and chaotic (so your breathing is rapid). In these types of situations, you need to learn how to take a moment to just breathe. When you are experiencing intense levels of stress, and you feel your heart is about to explode, then you need to breathe in deeply and count to four, then breathe out deeply and count to four. Do this a few times and you will start to feel better.
As mentioned earlier, the way that you respond to stress can make or break how you feel in the present moment. If you are used to responding to stress by thinking negatively, then it will take you longer to feel better. But if you embrace your feelings and change your outlook on stress, then you will feel better quicker. The next time you are feeling stressed, or you are in a stressful situation, try reframing how you think about stress. Notice how you are feeling, and instead of thinking the bad feeling will never go away, try and say positive messages to yourself and see how it makes you feel.
Many of us ruminate our mistakes until we feel worse. Don’t fret, this is actually quite common. As soon as something goes wrong, we beat ourselves up about it and think about it repeatedly. The next time a lesson doesn’t go as you planned, instead of getting stressed out and upset about it, try practicing self-love. Talk yourself out of it by telling yourself it’s OK, and that you did the best that you could. Then distract yourself so you won’t let the negative thoughts ruminate in your brain. These two things can turn a negative situation into a not-so-negative one within a matter of minutes.
You do not have to do it all on your own. You need to learn to work smarter, not harder. That means that if you have a lot on your plate and you know it’s going to stress you out, then learn how to delegate your tasks. Ask parent volunteers, your students, or even your family to pitch in. Asking for help does not make you look weak or look like you are incapable of doing things on your own. It actually makes you look smart and makes you better at your job.
By becoming aware of your feelings and emotions, living in the moment, and learning how to take a moment to just breathe, you can overcome stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and do not beat yourself up. You can do this.
Do you have any tips or ideas to manage your stress? Please share your classroom management ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on stress management.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.