Stressed Out? You Must Be A Teacher

YourEdustory image

I thought I would participate in the #YOUREdustory Blogging Challenge from time to time. Each week there is a blog topic that educators write about and this week’s topic made me pause- that’s when you know, you gotta dive right in!

How do you cope with the stress of being an educator? What do you do to avoid “teacher burnout”?

Stress is part of life. It is especially evident in a job setting where you are dealing with deadlines and the necessity to collaborate with multiple people to complete your task.

Rewinding three years when I was still in the classroom and extremely frustrated, I could not figure out how to put a smile on my face and be my best for my students. I wore stress on my back every day I walked into my classroom and even wore it full-time at home too. I have to say that the stress level was not just because of deadlines and the requirement to collaborate to complete my tasks, but I also have high expectations of myself and my performance as a teacher. The stress seemed to multiply where those different stresses would come together because they weren’t certainly aligned at the same time. This clash of stressors had me questioning if I wanted to be a teacher, let alone stay in education in some capacity.

I wish someone could have shared some tips with me to help me manage my stress during this time so that I could have remained as a teacher a few more years before jumping out into leadership positions as a coach and consultant. In honor of my past self seeking advice and inspiration, here are my tips for decreasing and coping with stress as an educator to avoid teacher burnout:

Implement a ME-centered Morning Routine

My biggest mistake is starting my morning by turning off my alarm, and checking emails or logging into my social media accounts. I immediately felt the flood stress hit me when the demands of others hit my plate. I started to begin my mornings focused on myself- reading a verse from my bible app plan, getting ready to my favorite tunes, eating a delicious breakfast, and spending time with my dog Mia. On my way to work, I would listen to the radio and set goals for what I wanted to achieve that day personally or professionally. I immediately felt happier and more energetic when I started my mornings focused on myself.

Take off your Teacher Hat on Breaks

During the school day my stress level would skyrocket. I started taking on the difficulties of the teachers I lead on my team and let that bog down my mind and heart. I desperately needed a pick me up during the day when my kiddos weren’t in the classroom, but I knew I couldn’t hide out in my classroom as my team needed me. So I kept my door open, but would put on my favorite Pandora music station and get lost in the lyrics and rhythm. I would get tasks done I needed around the classroom while getting a mood boost from Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and my church network Elevation.

Place Limits on Work Time

I could stay in my classroom for hours, but I preferred to get work done at home in my pjs on my couch. With that said, I ended up taking home soooo much work that just looking at my bags I got stressed out. I suddenly had no time at home to walk my dog, grab a snack, watch any shows or chat with friends and family. That might seem like a minor problem, but it actually became a MAJOR problem. You see, those tasks I just mentioned actually fueled me throughout the week. My dog reminded me what unconditional love is; a snack provided energy to keep going; reality TV watching allowed me to escape my daily stressors for a few minutes; and chatting with friends and family helped me focus on their needs instead of my own. In essence, these small things had a big importance in terms of balance in my life. So I started staying after school for an hour where I cut off all distractions and got my work done, starting with the most pressing deadline first. At 4:00, I headed home and did not allow myself to work until I had first walked my dog, grabbed a snack, watched a quick TV show and called a friend or family member. After dinner, I would check in to work for a few minutes to complete any last minute details or get ahead on a project. These time limits helped me control my stress and allowed me to let go of the pressure during my “off” moments.

All three pieces of advice have me as the center because that is where I was depleted most. If that is not where you feel depleted, then these solutions will not help reduce your stress. Think about what makes you feel the best in the moment you are the most stressed. That is your first solution to build into your day. Yes, you have to build in ME time and that doesn’t make you a bad teacher- it makes you a smart one!

What suggestions would you share with stressed educators?


Snag freebies and tips in the Always A Lesson monthly newsletter! Sign up here.

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.