Personally, I’ve been struggling with school stress lately.
Maybe it’s the unknowns, maybe it’s the knowns, but whatever it is the stress of this coming year has been weighing heavily on my shoulders the past few weeks. I’ve taken some steps to manage the stress of the upcoming year and thought I’d share some of the things working to help keep my head clear and my stress more manageable.
Keep your classroom a positive one.
I can’t stress enough that the vibe you bring into the classroom is the vibe your staff will mimic. Having a positive outlook, even when things are tough will keep the tone of your classroom a positive one. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to be careful who you vent to. Whatever you do, don’t vent to your assistants or people who work in your classroom. Find a trusted friend, or even better, talk to someone who will help you problem solve whatever is eating at you. We keep this felt board in my classroom and take turns changing it to say silly or positive sayings. It helps morale and helps me focus on the positive things happening in my classroom rather than the negative things.
Focus on what you CAN do
Sometimes I get so caught up thinking about things I can’t control I forget to do the things I CAN control. When I find myself losing focus for the day or worrying about ‘what if’s’, I make a “Today I can” list. I list everything I can get done and it give me something to focus my energy on. I find that once I’m crossing things off my list, I start to feel more in control and the anxiety of the ‘what if’s’ slowly melts away.
Set Healthy Boundaries
This is a big one, especially if you are teaching from home this year. Find some ways to set healthy boundaries so school and work doesn’t consume you. When I started teaching remotely last year, I had books and papers all over the house. When I mentioned I felt like I couldn’t escape school work, husband politely pointed out that it was because I hadn’t set boundaries. I was working in the places where I would relax, where I would eat dinner, and where I would sleep. To make things worse, I was checking school email and troubleshooting virtual learning hiccups with parents at all hours of the day and into the evening. To help create boundaries, I made myself a dedicated working space and set working hours with my students and parents. I set the “Do Not Disturb” on my phone and stuck to it. I put down the computer and took time to be present with my family. After a week of healthy boundaries, I started feeling like myself again.
Take time for yourself and prioritize your health. Move your body and drink coffee…. just kidding! Drink your water. Despite what cute teacher shirts say, we can’t live on coffee alone! Even a quick 5 minute walk helps reset my attitude and I find I’m not as groggy and grumpy when I drink enough water during the day.
One of my favorite ways to recharge is by using the Calm App. It’s free for teachers (hip hip hooray!) and I can use the app on my phone, computer, or my promethean board at school. There are quick meditations anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes. Its a great way to slow my brain down and refocus and recharge.
No matter what this school year brings, make sure you take time to take care of yourself and manage the stress that this school year comes with. In the end, your students need you to be the best teacher you can be! You can’t do that without taking care of yourself.