It never fails to amaze me how intuitive some students can be. They can know my mood within a matter of seconds and it will have an impact on their mood, be that positive or negative. Sometimes this is helpful, if I’ve had a bad lesson before they can tell now is not a good time to push me. Most days I have a rather sunny and positive personality, which students tend to gravitate towards, they will brighten up as they walk in, even the quiet students will have a chat with me. All of this is only good if it then means they will settle into the work, which mostly, they do. When I’m on my game, my class is active, dynamic and a place of discovery. I always said to myself if I’m bored in a lesson then the students must be too. So I didn’t aim for my students not to be bored, I aim for me not to be bored.
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However, what happens when I’m so stressed and over worked that I can’t find the time of energy to plan fun and dynamic lessons? Everybody suffers, I’m bored the kids are bored and is a viscous cycle.
This is not my first fight with stress and not will it be the last. As teachers we’ve all been there, many are constantly there. So what do we do? These are my methods :
1. Fake it till you make it – not good long term, but if I need to get through a lesson, plaster a smile on put a bounce in your step and plough through. Usually all it takes is a funny comment from a student or friend and I’ve snapped out of it!
2. Tick off some jobs – I absolutely hate having a mile long to do list! It’s not the fact that I have lots to do, but that there are SO many things on my list. I will stay an hour or two later one day and get as many of my small tasks done as possible, giving me more time to focus on the larger jobs.
3. Meditation – seriously. No I’m not a hippie or anything. Meditation is the best thing I ever discovered. I wrote an article for ukedmag on this too. Studies show its great for students and staff. I do 15 mins almost every day, if I stop for a while I can anyways see the stress creep back in. I have all my students take three deep breaths before exams too.
4. A long bath – bubbles, book, candles the whole nine yards. Time for just me to relax and zone out.
Now here’s where it gets tricky….
I’ve had a really rough week, I’ve done all of this and I’m still struggling to keep my head above water. I tried to talk to some colleagues and to family but it got me more angry and more stressed out. As teachers we have a lot to complain about, so when I get someone going they will tell me about 5 other problems I wasn’t even aware of. Venting is good, but perpetuating the issue, not so much.
Eventually I realised my best option :
5. Seek help – talk to your head of department, boss etc. So much of what I was stressing about, in the grand scheme of things, was not that important. Books that could wait a week to be marked, tests that someone else could moderate, tips on how to analyse data faster. I should have done step 5 first, but pride is a funny thing.
We always expect our students to ask for help when they struggle, so why do we feel like as adults that’s weakness? Surely the weakness is in not asking for help?
All I can say is I feel ten times better, already excited about some of my lessons next week!
It would be great to know if anyone has any other tips that work?