By Teachers, For Teachers
Whether you’re a first-year teacher or a seasoned veteran, the demands at school can be stressful. Between creating differentiated lesson plans, grading papers, and trying to make time for your family, it’s not uncommon to feel the pressure.
Researchers at Bradley University conducted a study on teacher workload (teaching time, office hours, etc.) and found that the greater the workload of the teacher, the more the students were adversely affected. Researchers explained in the study that if teachers were feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, then not only do they suffer, but their students do as well.
Unfortunately, much of a teacher’s workload is out of her hands. Lessons plans and grading has to get done, as well as classroom management, and a list of other things.
For some teachers, this neverending list leads to teacher burnout. But remember, the only way to feel less stress is to learn how to manage it.
Here are three classroom management ways you can do just that.
In college, you may have learned from one of your professors to always keep track of everything. They were right, listen to them! When you document everything that needs to get done in your classroom, you will get a great visual reminder. Then you can easily take this information, categorize it, and figure out what really needs to be done (the stress-inducing activities) and what is a waste of time. If you are a techy kind of teacher, then you can create this list on an app. There are multiple apps like I Teach Pad where teachers organize their schedules, lesson plans, to do lists, class and student lists, etc. Or, you can also use a basic journaling app or even your notes app on your smartphone. The helpful aid can be a lifesaver for you and your stress level.
You can easily manage your stress by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is said to be the next best thing for you and your health. If you were to tell someone 50 years ago that you were going to go out for a run, they would ask you what you were running from. Today, we know the benefits of exercise are astounding for our health. Some believe that mindfulness is, too. To practice mindfulness, you are directing your attention and being present in the moment. You are ultimately controlling where your mind goes. If you want to decrease your anxiety, then try taking a few minutes out of your day to just sit and listen to yourself breathe. Listen as you inhale and exhale. If you find that your mind begins to wander, then start counting your breaths every time you inhale and exhale: This will help you stay focused. Every time you feel yourself getting distracted, bring your attention back to your breath. If you find you are having a hard time then you can try listing to an app like Mindfulness Daily or Headspace to direct you.
Many teachers are so busy planning their lessons and trying to fit in time for their families that they forget about themselves. It’s easy to forget about yourself, but it’s also important to take time out to give yourself some love. Finding a hobby that is not education-related will help you alleviate some of that stress. Think about what you used to love doing as a child. What made you happy and made you feel alive? Did you love to draw and color as a child? Gather a few of your friends or colleagues and go to that paint night where you can paint and socialize over a glass of red wine. Go take that yoga class that you have always wanted to try, or run that 5K that you think you could never do. Indulge in a hobby that you love to reduce your stress level.
If you feel that your workload is unmanageable and you are on the verge of teacher burnout, try the above activities. By decreasing your workload, you are decreasing your stress level, which will thereby increase your focus and help your students. If you still feel that your workload is unmanageable, then maybe it’s time to talk to your administrator.
Do you have any tips or ideas to manage your stress? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
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.