Although I am writing this at the beginning of the school year, the truth is that stress can come at any point throughout the year!
You might feel stressed if, at any point in your day, you've…
- felt like pulling your hair out
- cried once the students left
- put your hands to your forehead and just had to close your eyes
- blew your lid with your student
- added yet one more item to the mile-long to-do list
But relax… don't get stressed over this… I'm here to tell you…it can get better!
I was working with a first grade teacher this week who was feeling stressed about training her students with all the procedures in ELA, Math, and management routines. She is a new teacher and new to our district. She was feeling frazzled and close to breaking down. I sat with her for a while and we talked through what she was feeling and how we could make things better.
When I asked where the stress was coming from, she said all the other teachers around her seemed to have it all together!
Isn't that sad?!
The stress she was feeling was coming from others teachers. What she perceived of other teachers or the vibe that other teachers were putting out was causing her to feel inadequate.
So here's a little secret I shared with her and I want you to understand clearly too… Even the teachers that seem like they got it together… don't have it ALL together!
And while you can't really stop others from putting off such a toxic vibe, you can control how you react to others that act like they have everything together. You can choose to not let others affect you this way. So here is my advice…
5 Tips to Create Less Stress
1. Don't Compare Yourself to Others
Be happy that you did your best! Don't compare yourself to where you “think” you should be. A cookie-cutter teacher doesn't exist. I truly believe that every teacher is different and has the potential to be an amazing teacher. Aim to be the best you that you can be!
2. Take Things Slow
Yes, you have to rehearse procedures in all areas, but it doesn't have to be perfect. The best thing you can do is to take things slow with your class. Train your students to know what they need to do but realize it takes time. Work on having a well-managed classroom by rehearsing and reminding your students of expectations. Sometimes you may need to reteach a procedure over and over again. Make your kids practice, practice, and then practice some more!
Instead of focusing on how you might envision things should be, applaud yourself for small gains! It can happen, and it is possible, but it doesn't have to be right now! Celebrate progress instead of expecting perfection.
3. Find a Positive Mentor
I cannot stress this enough. Find a teacher friend at your site that you can confide in and be mentored by. It is best to find a friendly, veteran teacher that is open to sharing. Ask for advice or for help! Start with something small so that you feel comfortable opening up with time. Ask how she handles pencil sharpening or lining up for lunch.
If there is something in your day that confuses you or you don't quite know how to teach it, ask for help. Mentors are always open to giving help!
Avoid teachers who constantly complain. If they complain about their students and workload and the lesson and… and… and…. THIS WILL NOT HELP YOU, and it will only cause you more stress!
4. Beg, Borrow and Steal
This is the biggest secret to teachers' success! They borrowed great ideas from other great teachers! Ha! Now, I would encourage you to use good judgment on what you consider to be a great idea. Be careful to beg, borrow or steal ideas that lead to student success. Just because it's easy and because it might be stress-free, doesn't make it good.
5. Make Time For Yourself
This is key! Find simple ways to de-stress that you enjoy! That way you feel rejuvenated when you go back to class. Don't take work home! This will free up your evenings to focus on other things that are important to you!
Whether you're a new teacher or a more experienced teacher, these tips will help! Remember you are not alone, and reaching out is always a good idea!