Spring break has passed, and testing season is getting ready to begin. You’re focused on teaching those last few lessons and getting students prepared for testing while your students are just ready for the school year to be over and for summer break to start. This time of the school year is stressful for both you and your students, so it’s important that you incorporate a variety of stress prevention and management techniques into your daily routine. Here are a few tips that can help you stay sane and reduce stress in the coming weeks:

  • Practice Mindfulness – Learning how to practice mindfulness—strengthening attention and empathy through an increased awareness of thoughts, sensations, and external stimuli—can help you reduce stress and increase self-compassion (WISC).
  • Stop Commiserating – Discussing the issues you face in the classroom with other educators is healthy to a point, but if it starts to dominate most of your conversations, it can cause extra stress for you and your coworkers (Teach Safe Schools).
  • Don’t Exaggerate – We can all exaggerate or overgeneralize when we’re upset or worried about something—make sure you avoid using stress-inducing words, such as “always” or “never” when you talk about issues you’re experiencing in the classroom (Teach Safe Schools).
  • Learn Something New – Taking a continuing education class, learning a new skill, trying a new hobby, or similar activities can help you keep your stress levels low and give you a sense of purpose (Teach Safe Schools).
  • Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy – Physical activity and spending time with family and friends can both be great stress relievers. Take a yoga class with a friend, walk at lunch or after dinner, or make some physical fitness goals you want to achieve.
  • Focus on the Small Victories – Small victories often get lost in the day-to-day grind of teaching children, creating lesson plans, and managing the classroom. Take time at the end of each day or week to write down what worked, who improved, and anything else you consider a small victory or success (Teach Safe Schools).
  • Offer Praise to Others – Whether you compliment a coworker, a student, or a parent, offering praise to others can make you feel good, reduce your stress levels, and help you create a positive environment (Teach Safe Schools).
  • Give Yourself Small Rewards – Treating yourself for a job well done (even if it’s just for making it through the week) can help you reduce stress and have a more positive mindset. Go out for a hot fudge sundae, have a movie night, go to the spa, or reward yourself in some other way.

Be sure to read our “Shake It Off! 10 Stress Busters for Teachers” blog post for additional tips on reducing your stress levels.   

It’s also important that you provide your students with the tools and information they need to prevent and manage stress:

  • Give Students Opportunities to Move – For many children, sitting still can be almost impossible. Give students opportunities to get out of their chairs and move around the classroom. Take a break from learning to stretch, do some jumping jacks, or jog in place.
  • Model and Discuss Stress Management Techniques – Discuss the effects of stress with students and model a few stress management techniques they can use, such as practicing breathing exercises, squeezing a stress ball, doing simple yoga moves, and other stress busters (Stress Free Kids).
  • Build Students’ Self-Esteem – Give students opportunities to be leaders in the classroom. Talk with students one-on-one and show interest in their work and ideas (Worksheet Library).
  • Help Students Become Aware of Their Own Mindset – If students are aware of their thoughts and how they’re feeling, you can help them develop self-regulation skills to manage their stress (TeachThought). Conscious Discipline items, such as the Shubert book series, can help children develop self-regulation and other social-emotional skills.
  • Keep Your Classroom Clean and Organized – Clutter or too much visual stimulation can make the learning environment stressful for children. Incorporate some decorations and displays of student work in the space, but be sure to leave some space between different design elements of your classroom to ensure that children feel relaxed and ready to learn (TeachThought). 
  • Incorporate Humor and Fun Elements – Laughter is the best and most effective stress buster for both children and adults. Incorporate humor in your lesson plans (e.g., tell a joke or come up with a funny rhyme to help children remember a concept) and a few fun elements in the learning environment (e.g., funny books and posters or a colorful display or bulletin board) to help reduce stress in your classroom.

Sources:
http://www.news.wisc.edu/22069
http://www.teachsafeschools.org/teacher-needs.html
http://www.stressfreekids.com/5857/impact-of-stress-on-learning
http://www.worksheetlibrary.com/teachingtips/teacherstress.html
http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/5-easy-ways-to-reduce-student-stress-in-the-classroom/

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