The start of the school year is always an exciting yet stressful time for all teachers, ICs, and leaders. Luckily, your peers have some incredible tips to share on reducing educator stress and fatigue. Take a moment to find a quiet place where you can unwind, find your inner zen, and learn new ways to combat unwanted stress. Enjoy! 😌
How to Help Teachers Manage Their Stress and Anxiety
Being an educator can be incredibly stressful at times and the shift to remote work has only amplified this. Luckily, Shelby Denman and Kaila Albright generously provided a few ways to identify teacher stressors as well as some different techniques for coping with them.
"As a coach, addressing teacher stress and anxiety is two-tiered. To care for teachers, you must first care for yourself. A burned-out match is useless for igniting a fire: In the same way, a coach who has nothing left to give is no help to those around them. Secondly, you must directly address your teachers' stress and anxiety to have a stronger instructional influence. A teacher's stress level affects their ability to receive and respond to new information."
"Instead of listening to a coachee share what's happening in their classroom to share my ideas and thoughts, coaches listen to understand and then formulate questions that will mediate a teacher's thinking. If coaches listen to respond, it devalues the coaching process and defeats the purpose—and becomes consulting. If the goal of coaching is to guide a teacher through the reflection process, entering our own ideas and thoughts into the equation defeats that. By listening to understand, we're truly seeking to get to the root causes and then walking a coachee through the reflection process to impact their practice."
"Teaching has never been a more stressful profession. And ongoing stress has serious consequences, affecting the area of our brain responsible for memory and learning. . . . Talking about stressful situations to a calm listener relieves, relaxes, and creates opportunities for problem solving."
"Mindsets shift often and require regular maintenance and assistance. . . . As educators, it is easy to get stuck in our heads, create assumptions, and accept patterns as truths. We all carry mindsets and burdens. As our environments and situations change, we all need someone to ask, 'Why are you scared?' and hold the mirror up."
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"Teachers depend on administrators to ensure that essential functions of school occur consistently. Staying ready to lead requires administrators to fight physical and emotional fatigue. School leaders' 'invisible work' is necessary, though emotionally draining, and few recognize it until something doesn't happen as it usually does. Do not unintentionally exhaust the emotional energy you need to support those who need you."
"The main takeaway with time, though, is to develop ways to give it unconditionally to teachers and not schedule or mandate anything else in its place, such as meetings or professional learning communities. . . . .Now, I'm not saying all meetings don't have value, but while the pandemic rages on, minutes and essential information can be emailed to staff or added to a collaborative Google Doc instead."
"Being in the service profession and spending hours with young people means teachers might experience a wide range of feelings more frequently than people in other fields. And suppressing emotions doesn't work. Emotions find a way to come out and be heard, and sometimes they manifest as burnout. . . . Emotions deserve attention because they are sources of wisdom and information—not just because we don't want them to become a problem.We should explore our emotions so we can learn from them."
Coaching Through a Crisis
Tricia McKale Skyles and Matthew Kelly provide some techniques for self-care to help overcome uncertainties thrown your way.
"I instruct others to strive for a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions with others– I was now going to deploy this strategy on myself. Every time I beat myself up, and sometimes rightfully so, I have to think of three genuinely positive things I've done that day. . . . For every irritant that came my way (and, trust me, I’m no peach to live with either), I stopped, intentionally thought and often spoke directly to them of the genuinely amazing things my tiny circle was bringing to the table."
Bonus Roundup! 🎉
As remote learning continues for some, educators still face unexpected shifts in processes, routines, and all of the stress that comes with them. Check out September 2020's topic roundup for seven additional articles chock-full of tips for dealing with stress and anxiety, specifically in a remote setting.
Have some additional advice for helping educators of all levels manage or reduce their stress? Share it with TeachBoost and we'll highlight it here!