Managing Teacher Stress

 

In one of my earlier years of teaching, I remember one of my team members turning around and telling me that I could do the work at home because I didn’t have a partner or children of my own. She on the other hand had 4 kids and a husband, so she wanted me to stop my current meeting and meet with her, because I didn’t have the same commitments and she needed to get home to her family. All the teachers who heard her were horrified at what she said. I was too, but as a young teacher I thought that maybe she had a point. After all, I didn’t really have anything else “important” to do at home. Whilst working with her, that comment always lurked at the back of my mind. It was easier to avoid confrontation and just do the work at home.

However bringing home work on a regular basis and just continuing to work was not a healthy choice for me. It soon began to affect my health. In the last few years I’ve struggled to find a balance. I am a teacher but I often forget that there is more to me than just being a teacher. When I’m stressed, I let go of everything that I enjoy doing. Blow Up (2006)                                                                                                     Thomas Riggs via Compfight

 

Last year, I fell into the same habit again. At one stage, I was struggling just to go to work. I didn’t want to go in. I felt pressured at work and was unable to complete the work on time. My teaching started to suffer- I would go into class tired and irritable. I felt like I was unable to distance myself and just focus on my students. However I’d usually find that after some time, being around the students made me feel relaxed. I would work with them and just enjoy being with them. The minute classes ended, I would lose that sense of being in the moment and slip back into the vicious stress cycle.

This year I’ve promised myself that I can’t continue to have my life revolve solely around work. I need to focus on my health and to enjoy life outside school. I used to love going to dance classes- 4 hours of pure bliss, where I didn’t think about anything except what the next step was going to be. Losing concentration meant that I would find myself on the ground and probably pulling my dance partner down with me. In order to dance in heels, I had to shut my mind to everything else. It was tiring but I was happy. I need to get back to dance classes but I need to work on my health first.

Going on fortnightly photography walks is a step in the right direction for me- I love taking photos. Meeting other photographers allows me to improve my own skills. I get to explore Melbourne city more regularly. I’ve wanted to take photos since I was young and going on these walks on a weeknight, will help me create a balance.

I need to remember is that I need to have a balance- not just for my health but also because I need to take time to enjoy the things I like doing. It’s my promise to myself- one that I intend to focus on more often.

#YourEduStory Week 5: How do you cope with the stress of being an educator? What do you do to avoid “teacher burnout”?

2 thoughts on “Managing Teacher Stress

  1. Thanks for your inspiring post and great perspective on the importance of balance. I love the idea of fortnightly photography walks (and love that you used the word “fortnightly!”) Thanks for the reminder to live a full life, and have boundaries around taking too much work home.

    • Hi Bjorn, thanks for commenting on my post. It was a good topic to write on as I need the constant reminder that I need a balanced lifestyle.

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