The only way for teachers to survive in the long run is to have a separate life away from teaching.
I used to know a teacher who would get up early in the morning, go to school, then come home and immediately start grading papers for the rest of the day. That is a good way to burn out.
Workaholism is never a good idea.
Even if you don't have a wild social life outside of school, just doing things that are not school related can be a great way to lower stress.
The first step to having a separate life is to try to do as much of your work at school as possible. Stay late and get your work finished if you have to. Avoid working at home as much as absolutely possible.
If you have children or if you have no choice but to do work at home, the best way to handle that situation is to work intensely for blocks of time. Don't just do work sporadically around the clock so that it feels like a 24 hour cycle of work. That is a good way to wear out in a hurry.
Some students know how to misbehave just enough without getting punished.
These students may not be doing anything outrageously bad, but their behavior is still disrupting learning. These are the kinds of things that can be really frustrating for a teacher.
A lot of times the students who push the limits without quite crossing them are the upper level, honors types.
I am a fan of keeping track of cumulative misbehavior. If a student crosses a minor boundary once or twice it may not be a big deal. It is when students cross the same boundaries over and over again that problems can occur.
The best way to prevent regular but minor misbehavior is to keep a record of it. When the number of infractions becomes too high, a consequence may be in order.
Set limits and stick to them.
Public speaking is hard.
I know that this is not earth shattering news, but teaching requires a lot of public speaking.
Believe it or not, even teachers get nervous sometimes. I can't even count the number of times that I have heard of teachers getting panic attacks, crying during class, or just being generally emotionally drained. Teachers are people too.
When you are growing up, it is easy to deify your teachers and think that they are some kind of super-people. They had us all fooled. I will never forget an attractive math teacher that I had in the 6th grade who told us that she didn't have any fun in college because she and her friends were "mature." Yeah right.
I consider myself a student of public speaking. I see it as an art.
One of the first things that people do when they get nervous is start talking fast. If you feel yourself getting a case of the nerves, don't panic. Don't even think it's abnormal. Take a breath, and be intentional about speaking a little more slowly. It will help you to think more clearly and move on.
It's no big deal.
It's good for your students to know a little about you.
Many teachers like to be a mystery. They don't want their students to know anything about them, and they don't want to know about their students, either. They are there for one reason--to suffer through the day and get their students to pass whatever year end test they may have so they can get the boss off their backs. This is obviously not a great way to influence children.
Don't be afraid to let your students see some of your personality. Be yourself. Relax a little every now and then. It won't kill your classroom management. Just don't share too much with them.
It is okay for students to know a little about your life and your personality, but they don't need to be in on everything going on with you. Some teachers talk to their students like they are a girlfriend or buddy, sharing personal details about their lives. This is going a little too far.
Don't use your time in class as a time to vent or talk about your feelings too much. That should not be the role that your students play in your life.
You are still an authority figure. Don't lose sight of your role and purpose.
Getting to know your students is a good idea.
You are probably going to be with these people for a semester or an entire school year. Show them that you care about them and that you are interested in more than just using them to extract a good test score.
You can usually find something good about just about everyone. Some of your students may be funny, some may be smart, some may be kind. Whatever it is, there is something there worth learning about.
You will find something good in your students if you look hard enough.
Why spend your time in the classroom suffering through each boring day and hoping that this group of strangers doesn't misbehave and stress you out? Get to know your students. Enjoy their personalities. Focus on what is good about them instead of the things you may not like.
Enjoy your job.
I can hear it now. Teachers all over the world shushing people. We have to save the children! They need silence to be able to think! Be quiet! Give me a break.
I am a fan of reality. A lot of educators seem to prefer to live in fairy tale land sometimes. The reality is that outside of school, many situations that require learning or focus will be noisy.
How many jobs involve working in a big room with phones and conversations going on everywhere? How many times in college will other students be playing loud music when you want to study?
Kids will be better off if they get some practice having to concentrate with a little chaos going on around them every now and then. They need to learn to get over it.
I'm not saying that teachers should let noise be rampant every minute of every school day. We just don't need to be so uptight on trying to make it so quiet all the time that you could hear a pin could drop whenever work is being done.
So, save the children. Prepare them for life. Just don't baby them. That stops for most people once they get away from their parents and school. Get used to it.
Teaching can be overwhelming sometimes.
It may feel like Christmas break or the end of the school year will never come. You may have a class that misbehaves so much that that you go home and cry every day after school. These things happen.
The only way to handle these difficult situations is try to not think about too much at once. Having to deal with that wild class for 175 more days may be more than you want to deal with. But one more day is manageable.
If you are having a tough year, try not to think about the challenge of having to last for the entire school year. Just get yourself ready for tomorrow.
A lot of educators are clueless about classroom management. This includes some teachers who are just starting out and it also includes some educators who have been in the profession for thirty years or more.
If you ever wonder if you or another educator is clueless about classroom management, just ask yourself (or the other person) what the best classroom management plan would be. If the answer you get is to have a great lesson then you are clueless.
There are two cases when this method would actually work: 1) If you are a natural at classroom management (which includes very few people) and 2) If your lessons are compelling and entertaining 100% of the time (which includes no one).
Most teachers are not in either of these two categories.
One of the best ways to reduce stress from public speaking and teaching is to be prepared. Have a classroom management plan from the beginning. Know what you will do ahead of time to handle any potential behavior problem.
You will have much less stress having a specific plan ahead of time than you will if you try to handle misbehavior as it happens.
Students pay attention.
They notice how you act. They notice how you treat people. They even notice what you wear.
The way you present yourself communicates how much you care about what you are doing.
Teachers are professionals. Dressing like one not only shows that you are serious about your job, but it can also get you in a professional mindset.
Dressing too casually communicates that you aren't all that serious about what you are doing.
A suit and tie may not be necessary, but putting a little effort into what you are wearing shows that you take teaching seriously. That attitude can wear off on the students as well.
Paying attention to your wardrobe may not be the most important thing that you do today, but it does matter. Sometimes the small things can make a difference.
Students are not the only cause of stress for teachers.
Sometimes teachers are in a bad mood before they even get to school. Maybe they got in a fight with their spouse. Maybe they didn't get enough sleep the night before. There are a number of things that may cause stress for teachers before they even walk into the building.
Be on your guard when you know that you are coming to school already in a bad mood. Don't let it affect the way that you treat your students.
When you feel like you are already in a bad mood before the school day begins, recognize it and don't let your emotions get in the way of treating your students fairly. Do whatever you can to be as unemotional as possible when handling discipline in the classroom.
Working with children is not always an easy thing to do, especially when you are already in a bad mood. Knowing ahead of time that your bad mood may cause you to treat your students unfairly can help you prevent it.
I know teachers who get mad at every little student disturbance that happens in their classroom. They treat everything like it's an emergency.
If your goal is to have quiet and robotic-like good behavior, this strategy may not be a bad idea.
If your goal is to maximize student learning, student relationships, and mental health, then this approach is probably not a good idea.
Sometimes students do things that make you want to lose your temper. This is true whether you are teaching five year olds or twenty-two year olds. It is part of the job of teaching.
Learn to pick your battles. There may be times when a student does something to deserve a harsh reaction. Most of the time, though, the best way to handle student disturbances is to keep calm and stay under control. You will be glad you did.
A normal workload for a teacher can be hard enough. Planning, teaching, grading, classroom management, etc. is enough to wear anyone out.
Teachers should be very careful about the extra duties they take on. This is true for all teachers, but especially true for new ones.
There are enough extra duties available for teachers to keep them busy around the clock. Be careful about volunteering for too much and wearing yourself out.
Sometimes you may have no choice but to take on extra responsibilities. New teachers seem to be the first ones to get things piled on to their regular work load. This doesn't seem to make a lot of sense considering that new teachers are the ones who are still getting used to the profession.
Trying to help out and look good for the boss is not necessarily a bad idea. Just make sure that it is not at the expense of your health, mental state, and classroom performance.
There are few things that are more important for a teacher than good classroom management skills. And yet, this topic gets very little attention in many college education programs.
The little training that education students get in college concerning classroom management is often either useless or bad. This is probably because the professors are often many years removed from the classroom, if they were ever there in the first place.
"Be mean and lighten up later" seems to be the general theme of the advice given to future teachers for handling classroom management.
Practicality does not seem to be a major goal of college education training.
Figure out a classroom management style that fits your own personality. Have boundaries and consequences, but don't feel like you have to be cranky all the time to be successful. There is more than one way to succeed in the classroom.
Be careful about assuming your professors always knew what they were talking about. This should be true about all subjects in college, but especially so in education.
Information and facts aren't the only thing that students learn in the classroom. They are noticing how teachers act as well.
Like it or not, teachers are role models.
If the only valuable thing that your students learn from you are the facts of your subject matter, then you have failed as a teacher. That's right, I said it. Failed.
You have 180 days (or some other significant amount of time) to prepare your students for the future.
Model good manners, respect for others, and professionalism and you will be helping your students much more than if you just taught them facts from a book. Take advantage of the time you have with them and prepare them for more than their next class.
Teachers handle discipline and classroom management in a wide variety of ways. Some are super strict. Some let anything go. Most are somewhere in between these two extremes.
Whatever your classroom management style is, though, there is one thing that should be in common among all of them: don't tolerate disrespect.
You should always have in mind a line that is too far for students to cross with you. It is much better to know what that line is ahead of time instead of just trying to react as it happens.
Not tolerating may be in the form of a formal consequence or it may even just be a comment that lets the student know that the behavior won't be allowed.
However you decide to handle disrespect from students, don't let them get away with it. Respect for adults and authority is an important lesson that students can learn. Just don't be a crazy person and overdo it.
Bad health can negatively affect your mood, concentration, and performance. A bad mood can negatively affect the way you treat your students. So take care of your health. Case closed.
Teaching is a profession that can invite bad health because of the high stress and weird hours that are often involved with it. It's hard enough to teach well when you are in good health. Being at your best as a teacher when you haven't taken care of yourself is nearly impossible.
Classroom management is much harder to deal with when you are already stressed out and in a bad mood before you even begin.
Don't let your teaching career ruin your health. It's a great thing to do, but it's not worth killing yourself over.
What you eat, how much you sleep, and the amount of exercise you get are all important factors for health. Don't make excuses about why you can't take care of yourself. Sometimes you just have to make yourself behave in these areas. Not only will it make you feel better, it will also help your performance in the classroom.
Don't be the sleep deprived, sugared up, out of shape slob who suffers through the day and takes out stress on your classes. Your students deserve better.
Students can usually tell how you feel about them.
If you think of your students as just an obstacle that stands between you and 3 o'clock or the weekend, they can probably tell.
If you like your students or don't like them, they can probably tell.
I am not saying that your goal should be to love (or even like) all of your students, but you can definitely care about all of them. There are little things that you can do to show this.
Going to extracurricular events like sports games, musical performances, plays, etc. shows support for both your students and your school. You would be surprised how much this can mean to your students.
Don't just be the type of teacher that punches the clock every day and tolerates students as a necessary evil on the road to getting a paycheck. Show them that you care. Support them in any way you can.
If you teach for more than five minutes you will probably notice that some of your students are more friendly than others. Some like to talk and socialize, some don't. That is just the way that people are.
As a teacher, it is absolutely essential that you do not play favorites, no matter how likable or friendly a student may be. Other students can tell very easily when a teacher does this, and it can destroy the trust and respect that a teacher needs to succeed.
This is especially true when it comes to grades. If you teach a class that is subjective like English, then it might be a good idea to have a grading system where you can't see the students' names. Do whatever you can to not let your grading be swayed by your opinion of individual students. Each one deserves a fair chance.
There is nothing wrong with getting to know your students, laughing with them, etc. Just make sure that you don't make it look like any of them are getting special treatment from you.
Some teachers are strict and respected. Some teachers are strict and hated. How does this happen? I have a theory.
The only way to really keep the respect of your students is to have a mixture of both praise and criticism. The most successful teachers are not the ones who are negative all the time. The reverse is also true. The overly positive sugar blowers eventually lose respect as well.
Excessively strict and critical teachers will never reach their full potential. They may be able to intimidate students into behaving, but that isn't exactly the best learning environment. So, the answer is to never criticize and be negative, right? Booooo. Wrong.
When teachers(or parents, or bosses, or any other kind of supervisors) blend praise and criticism, they show that they are willing to be honest. This makes both kinds of comments more believable. If all you do is tell people how great they are, eventually they will catch on that you are full of it. Most people respect and appreciate honesty.
This is true for coaches as well. The coach who does nothing but criticize will lose his team quickly. Smart coaches look for ways to compliment players to avoid doing nothing but pointing out mistakes all the time.
Be intentional about pointing out the good as well as the bad things and you will be a much more believable and respected leader.
It can be tempting for teachers to try to pretend to be something they aren't in the classroom. It may seem like a good idea to act cool, mean, nice, etc. This usually does more harm than good, however.
One of the best things a teacher can do is to be real. Let your true personality show as much as possible when you are in the classroom. If you are the serious type, don't try to be silly and fun in the classroom just because you heard that this style is popular with students.
Having popularity as a goal is definitely a big mistake. Your top priority as a teacher is not to be liked. It's not even to be happy. Your first objective should to serve your students. Trying to be popular or cool will inevitably lead to you compromising what is best for students to help fulfill your own needs of being liked. Always keep this in mind and everything else will usually fall into place.
Have enough of a life that you don't have to rely on your students liking you to feel good about yourself.
Shape your teaching personality out of the real you. There is nothing wrong with getting ideas from other educators, but your main identity as a teacher should come from your true personality. Following this rule will make it much easier for you to relax, enjoy yourself, and feel good about what you have done at the end of the day.
I feel like I am in a very small minority on this issue, but that's okay. It wouldn't be the first time.
My definition of gossip is talking about a person by name. Some teachers gossip about as much as they breathe. They love talking about how good or bad particular students are. If they don't have a student to talk about then they will gossip about what other teachers are doing. This drives me crazy.
Gossiping about students and other teachers can create a negative atmosphere in the room, and eventually in an entire school. Some people don't even like being talked about in a positive way (especially when it comes to grades). I have a rule against naming names in my classroom, and if I was a principal I would have the same rule for my teachers. Don't use other people's business as your form of entertainment. Terrible.
Not doing what you say you are going to do is a fast way to lose the respect of your students. They may forget every single academic thing you teach them, but they will remember all the times you broke your word(among other nonacademic things you said).
If you tell a student that he or she will pass your class and then you change your mind and fail the person, that would be a major deal. Little things matter too, though. Let's say that you tell your students that they will have no homework for the weekend and then you decide at the last minute that they need some. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could be to them.
On the rare occasions where I feel like I have no choice but to break my word to my students, I try to be sure to apologize as much as I can and I beg them for forgiveness. I might offer them some kind of peace offering, like candy or no homework later or something like that. I realize how big a deal it is to break my word to them, and I try to make up for it.
So be careful. Make sure you keep your word to your students as much as possible. Do it for the small things as well as the big. You will have a much better chance of keeping their respect if you do.
I think that one of the biggest mistakes that teachers make is letting emotion get in the way of their classroom management process. They raise their voices. They guilt trip. They get sarcastic. Sometimes they get downright mean. This is a great way to create a Teacher vs. Student atmosphere. There is no need to go down that road.
Don't let yourself become the emotional, bullying, crazy teacher that we have all experienced at one time or another. These are the jerks who give teachers a bad name and make students hate school.
So, have a plan for the possibility of student misbehavior and give your consequences in an unemotional way. Let the consequences do the talking, not your attitude.
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