- We try to be perfect. Teachers tell their students that mistakes are good, we learn from them. And yet, I meet many teachers who strive for perfection in their own work and their own life. They get frustrated when a lesson plan does not work perfectly, when pupils do not understand enough. It is good for us to have high standards, but we must remember that the pursuit of perfection is dangerous. It does not model what we know about learning, that learning takes place when we are make mistakes.
- We always want to try harder. Teachers are often very hard workers, always trying to do things better. If our students do not understand, we spend longer planning our lessons. If we cannot finish our to-do list, we stay up longer to get through it. Sometimes we spend a lot of time trying harder in the wrong direction. We find things which blatantly do not work, such as staying up late into the night to plan a lesson, which we are then too tired to teach properly, and then we do more of what does not work.
- We always want to stay strong. Teachers hate to let people down, which often means we go into work when we are sick, we don’t admit we are struggling with a class, we push our personal and family problems to the back of our mind. Again, this can be useful, we need to be reliable. However, when we insist on always being strong, we ignore our needs and the pressures build up inside us. That is why so many teachers get sick in the holidays. We need to know when to stop.
- Instead of trying to be perfect, we acknowledge that mistakes can to be good.
- Instead of trying harder, we try something different.
- Instead of trying to be strong, we decide to be human.
Developing our strategies to manage the stress
- Focus on what is in your control
Take a moment and make a list of those things which are causing your stress.
Now divide these things into two lists, things which are within your control at the moment and things which are not in your control at the moment. Decide to focus on the things which are in your control and do something about them. Put the others aside. We tend to obsess about those things which are outside our control.
- Be your own best friend
- Write down 6 highlights of the day
Decide to train yourself to see the positives. At the end of each day, write down 6 highlights of the day. A highlight can be quite a small thing. Get into the habit of noticing what is working and do more of that.
- Off load in a safe way
- Notice energizers and drainers
- Learn to say no
We all remember an inspiring, positive teacher and we all remember those teachers who were stressed and not enjoying their teaching. Keep yourself motivated if you want to keep your pupils motivated!
By Marie Delaney