I have heard different sayings along the lines of “if you love what you do, you won’t feel stressed.” However, in my opinion, that just isn’t true! Teaching is indeed a passion and I love every (well most every!) minute of it, but I would be lying to you if I said I never once feel stress in this profession.
In my journey as a teacher, I have tried to find successful ways to manage stress so that I can enjoy this fabulous profession and not let anything get me down! These are 7 ways that I am currently trying to manage teacher stress,and while I don’t succeed at them all – they are a start!
#1 – If possible, disconnect from school related technology at home.
Last year, I finally decided that my work email had to stop coming to my phone, or at least the notifications had to be turned off. It was convenient to have it on my phone with my other email accounts, but it became intrusive.
I would be at home in the evening and the phone would show an email from a parent or co-worker. They were often things that could wait, but I would see them and think “oh I will just quick answer it” which wasn’t always quick… and before you know it my evening time with my husband was more about answering emails.
So, I turned off the notifications and I try my very best to only check my work email at work, or just once at night from the computer.
#2 – Try to leave the bags!
I think this one may be impossible for many teachers, and it still is for me sometimes! I am trying so hard to leave the bags at school. Even though carrying bags and looking like a pack mule is one of the 7 signs you are a Kindergarten teacher, I think there should be some limits on this.
Teachers often go to work early or stay late, and we know that even all the bags in the world won’t finish our job – the work of a teacher is truly never done! Even though I do enjoy the occasional lesson planning at home and lamination cutting party, I really try to limit myself to one or two days a week of that.
It’s so hard to turn off our teacher brains, but we have to find a balance somehow!
#3 Try not to live at school.
It took me a few years to get this down and I am still working on it every year. I used to go to school every weekend and stay until or past dinner nearly every night. Well, even though I do enjoy it (Saturdays in the building are pretty quiet, I can get a lot done) I also realize that in this profession we will never be “done” with our work, and that sometimes we have to be ok with that.
Forcing myself to work and work until it was done was a never ending cycle, and I never want to lose my joy of the occasional Saturday bulletin board redo or lesson planning. I just work hard now to keep my weekends for family. It definitely isn’t easy and sometimes I do go to school!
#4 Accept that things will not be perfect.
I used to want everything to go perfectly in my classroom. I would pride myself on organization and great classroom management and I would work so hard to make everything seem, well, perfect.
I like to give Kindergarten credit for the change in me. I am no longer that way. I am organized but sometimes we are a hot mess because we are busy learning. My management is still strong but we have off days because we are learning how to do school. And you know what? It’s ok!
When you let go of trying to be a “perfect teacher” you can enjoy yourself and your students so much more!
#5 Have a plan for planning time
This one is hard for me. If you do have assigned planning time, I highly recommend planning for your planning time. Sounds silly, I know. But trust me!
If you are like me, it will be “planning time” and then you will spend half of it doing 875 different things (because there are 9000 to do) and nothing will get completed because you were bouncing all around like a crazed rabbit.
This year I actually wrote in my plan book what I would accomplish during my planning periods, and it made a huge difference! I felt less stress because things were getting done!
#6 – Sleep!
Well, if you know me, it is funny that I even have this in here. I am a major night owl and I also have insomnia quite often. Sleep is not really my friend, except in the morning when I wish we could stay together longer.
However, this is a big one on my list this year to work on. I am trying to wind down each night, set myself a bedtime, and turn off that teacher brain (but sometimes it wins and I am thinking about teaching at midnight).
A tired, worn out teacher simply isn’t as effective. At least I am not! When I am tired I get headaches and am more irritable, which makes me feel stressed about things I shouldn’t be. So getting some zzzzzz’s is important!
#7 Enjoy your students!
This is my favorite tip of all. Sometimes, when the day is crazy or I am stressed out by requirements or testing or meetings, etc – all I need to do is remember my students and who they are, and take the time to enjoy them.
Whether that means we have a random read aloud “just because” or we take a brain break and dance silly “just because” – I love finding those moments to just be with them and enjoy them for who they are.
Teaching is a wonderful profession and far more than a job. It truly takes special people to be teachers! I want to keep my joy for teaching and enjoy my time with my students, so this year, I am trying to implement these tips to prevent teacher stress.
Which one is easiest for you to do? Which one is hardest? I would love for you to let me know!