Teaching can feel like the most thankless job on the planet—sometimes so stressful you fear losing your mind. How to cope without becoming a tyrant or a doormat?
- Take Care of Yourself
No matter how much you still have to do after school hours, always save time for exercise, sleep, and self-pampering. It’ll benefit no one if you routinely show up tired and cranky.
- Let the Kids Help
There are plenty of opportunities to let students suggest lesson ideas, assist struggling classmates, or even take a turn as “teacher” by explaining last night’s reading in their own words. Don’t let pride tempt you into shouldering a load too heavy for one person.
- Give Everyone a Fair Chance
If someone is struggling for the right answer, wait a few extra seconds and then, if they’re still stuck, encourage with a few gentle hints before you call on someone else. A child can be a slow learner and still be bright: showing visible impatience is a put-down that makes enemies and adds to your own stress.
- Have Established Boundaries
Preferably with input from the class, establish clear guidelines on expectations, unacceptable behavior, and consequences. Guaranteed to significantly reduce clashes.
- Avoid Nit-Picking Perfectionism
Don’t make a big deal over a small mispronunciation or an 89 percent score. If you’re never satisfied, the kids will soon abandon all attempts to please you.
- Know What’s Not Worth Complaining About
Attempts to forcibly alter someone else’s tastes accomplish nothing, except to generate alienation and stress. Spare your students (and yourself) the annoyance of “When I was your age, kids knew how to dress properly” lectures: chances are that “how to tuck in a shirt” isn’t in the official curricula anyway.
- Pinpoint the Real Difference of Opinion
Two bakers argued over the last four eggs. One actually wanted only the whites and the other only the yolks; but because neither understood this, each took two whole eggs; two recipes were made half-size; and half of each egg was thrown out and wasted.
When you clash with a student, a parent, or an administrator, get clear on the facts before setting your mind on any specific resolution. There may be a better solution than mere “compromise.”
- Keep a Rein on Your Imagination
Mentally living through as-yet-nonexistent scenarios only generates unnecessary stress. Don’t panic for your job just because the principal noticed your class has slipped down a couple of percentile points.
- Know Where Your Own Responsibility Stops
You’re responsible for knowing the curricula, understanding your students as individuals, and keeping overall order in a classroom. You are not responsible for controlling everything your students achieve. Just do your best, and don’t beat yourself to death if you occasionally get someone who proves stubbornly impossible to motivate.
- Ask For Input on Teaching Methods
Most non-achievers aren’t really stubborn, just wired to learn in different ways from the approach the teacher is using. Go ahead and ask—or have the whole class brainstorm—how you might make things clearer by another route. Another key factor in staying sane is never forgetting that you’re a learner too!
GREAT PLACE TO TEACH, GREAT PLACE TO WORK
If you’re trained in elementary-school teaching and considering private-school employment, and if you want everyone to get more from learning than rote memorization, Shady Oak Primary may be the place for you. Our private elementary school emphasizes active and project-based learning to help every child master their natural skills for long-term benefit. Contact us today to ask about opportunities and resources for teachers!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!