Teaching can be one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world and there are many rewards that cannot be taken for granted – you’re on your feet most of the time but you do something different daily, and most importantly, you are helping to shape multiple children’s future.
But let’s be realistic! Helping shape a child’s future, whilst being responsible for their safety requires you to have eyes in the back of your head and to be focused at all times. It’s common knowledge that resources and support for teachers are rapidly shrinking – so, it’s inevitable that many teachers experience high levels of stress the further up the career ladder they climb.
Stress is, unfortunately, a part of life, but how can we manage it better?
Everybody is familiar with the saying ‘there’s just not enough hours in the day!’ and undoubtedly delegation is one of the most important skills to be learned throughout a teaching career. When you have risen to a high-level position you will have access to support staff whose job it is to help take some of the burdens off you. You must take advantage of this!
At the start of any term or project, think ahead when you are planning and choose the teachers that you want to develop and entrust with different responsibilities. These could be day-to-tasks or longer-term commitments. Although investing time in training for them may seem time-consuming at first, it truly is a valuable investment that you will feel the benefit of. You will gain back some precious time to put your energy into completing tasks that need your undivided attention.
Re-think the open-door policy
Moving from being in a busy classroom all day to being confined to an office on your own can be challenging. Adopting an open door policy helps to eliminate that sense of loneliness by creating a more social atmosphere. Plus, you are more likely to understand the true goings on of your school and won't end up relying on information that has been filtered for your ears.
This approach is good for building relationships, but there is a risk of you losing control of work priorities. Structure and boundaries are extremely important, not only to monitor your own workload but also for your emotional health and wellbeing. If you are being disturbed all the time you will not be able to get your to-do list completed which can cause more stress as a result.
This policy is most effective when used now and then, finding the right balance is essential.
Lists, lists, lists
Understandably, everyone has different ways of working and planning out their day, but a well-known method of planning is the simple method of using ‘lists’.
By dividing your tasks into “must”, “should” and “could” categories, you can prioritize your day more efficiently, and even if at the end of the day you are left with an overflowing list, you will at least have the satisfaction that everything in the ‘must’ category has been completed.
It also could be considered helpful to make a list, where possible, of all the unplanned things that have happened throughout the day; for example, meeting with parents or filing an incident report. That way, even if you are leaving the day feeling like you haven’t achieved much, you can look down at that list and realize that you have. Sometimes the administrative jobs, although are perhaps simpler, are the most time-consuming.
Be realistic with your goals
As you will already know, when you’re a teacher, your day will never completely go as planned. There’s always going to be something that you didn’t anticipate doing that morning when you got out of bed.
That’s why it’s so important to be realistic about what you expect to achieve every day. You’re only human and only so much of your day can be controlled.
The same thought process should be put towards those difficult conversations with parents, or other members of staff. Be realistic with yourself, it’s probably not personal – if anything they are more likely to be upset with an external issue and are hoping you can help or advise them. Try to gauge what feelings and emotions might be underpinning a complaint before a conversation like that starts.
You’re only human
Teachers have to wear many hats and juggle many different demands. As you would tell a student, ‘remember that you are only human, and you can only try your best!’.
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