Posts Tagged ‘Teacher Stress’

The Harmful Effects of Constantly Changing a Teacher’s Year Level

December 9, 2019

 

There is a rather ludicrous tendency to have teachers switch classes on a regular basis. They may be a 4th Grade teacher one year and a 1st Grade teacher the next.

The reasoning goes something like this. A teacher that constantly moves doesn’t get too comfortable in a year level, Being too comfortable, the argument goes, can lead a teacher to revert to lazy practices and repeat old, tired lessons from yesteryear.

But I would argue the teacher merry-go-round has a harmful element. It prevents teachers from mastering a given year level and stops them from building on their previous year’s work and learning from mistakes made in the past.

The curriculum is too dense and the expectations of teachers are too high to treat the end of year shuffle like a game.

Yes, you don’t want your teachers to revert to laziness, but even more so, you want them to excel.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Tips For Teachers for Managing Stress

July 8, 2013

 

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Stress has become an unavoidable part of a teacher’s life. The demands on a teacher are growing every year and the conditions are far harder than ever before. Psychologist Marc Smith gives some useful tips to teachers for managing stress:

Despite much discussion concerning the nature of workplace stress, our jobs are getting more and not less stressful. While stress certainly isn’t unique to the teaching profession, working in schools does throw up a number of situations that are unique to education while the current climate of uncertainty and criticism further undermines the professionalism and confidence of many hard working teachers. Ofsted inspections, changes to pay and conditions and new appraisal systems all add to the feeling that we are far from in control. Identifying those things that we can control and those that we cannot could help to prevent daily hassles from becoming major problems; but we can’t do it on our own.

Stress is a natural biological response and back in the day when wild animals roamed freely and early humans spent much of their time hunting and gathering the body’s response to stress was vital for our survival. Stress allows our biological system to prepare itself to do something – either attack (fight) or run away (flight). Acute stress represents that immediate panic which drives the fight or flight response but if this stress continues we begin to suffer from a more chronic condition, this can not only impact on us psychologically but can also lower our immune system, making us more vulnerable to physical illness.

Psychologically, the stress we feel is often based on our individual perception of a situation and this is why some people appear to suffer more than others. American psychologist Julian Rotter describes this as our ‘locus of control’ or the extent to which an individual feels that they have control over a situation. Locus of control can be internal, in that we believe we have control over our lives, or external, where we believe that the environment controls events. Realistically most of us fall between these two dimensions but we may favour a particular one. Unfortunately, our locus of control is very difficult to change because it probably developed through a combination of genetics and early socialisation.

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Top 10 Ways of Dealing with Teacher Burnout

June 17, 2013

stress

Courtesy of :

1. Foster Positivity

Instead of focusing on the negative, turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. Every time you think a negative thought reword it in your own mind. Even though this might seem silly, it is the core of internal happiness. No one wants to be around a negative person 24 hours a day. If you are always thinking negative thoughts that’s just what you’re doing to yourself. Therefore, to avoid stress and teacher burnout, you really need to examine the messages you are sending yourself about the job. If every day you are saying, “This job is so hard. There are just too many demands,” then you really are not giving yourself any reason NOT to burn out.

2. Create Realistic To Do Lists

Some people put everything including fixing the kitchen sink on their to-do list each day. There is a point where there are just so many things on a list that there is no way all of them can be accomplished. Therefore, you would be wise to create an overall task list that you need to accomplish and store this someplace where you can check it over each week. Then make yourself a daily to-do list that is reasonable and doable. Try to limit yourself to 3-5 tasks that you can accomplish in one day. Then when you mark them off the list you can feel a sense of accomplishment, and you will have something to celebrate.

3. Accept That There Are Things You Cannot Change

The Prayer of St. Francis is an excellent way to help you accomplish this. Each time something happens beyond your control, you can just ask for the courage to change the things you can, the strength to accept the things you cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. While teachers often have a greater degree of control within their own classrooms, real stressors come from the outside. These might be in the form of high stakes testing, educational reforms, or professional development requirements. While teachers cannot change much of what is thrown at them, they can change their own attitudes towards these challenges.

4. Learn to Relax

Many find relaxation through meditation, yoga, or exercise to be the perfect anecdote to a stressful day. When your workday is done, you need to leave the stresses of it and the rest of your life behind, even if only for fifteen minutes. Relaxation and meditation can rejuvenate the body and the spirit. Right now you can begin by just closing your eyes and telling each of your body parts to relax as you sink further into your seat. Then focus on your breathing. If you only did this for five minutes each day, you would see a big difference in your own stress levels.

5. Watch a Funny Movie

Research has proven that laughter often is the best medicine. The natural endorphins that are released while laughing help bring us relief from the stresses of the world. Find something that will really give you a good belly laugh – something that might even make your eyes water from the joy it brings.

6. Try Something New

This might be something you do different during your classes or it could be something in your personal life. Burnout can often be caused by getting caught in a rut. While on the Internet, search for new lessons or materials to help you teach an upcoming topic. Outside of school, find something that you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t done yet. This might be something as simple as enrolling in a cooking class or more ambitious like learning to fly an airplane. You will find that these experiences outside of school will also transform your day-to-day teaching.

7. Leave Your Teaching at School

While this is not always possible, try not to bring home work every night. You might want to consider going into school early so that you can complete your paperwork. Then you will be able to leave as soon as your workday is done. Every person needs that mental break from their work, so use the time in the evening for you and your family.

8. Get Plenty of Sleep

Then number of sleep hours each person needs varies by the study that is being discussed. Yet all the sleep studies that I’ve read make it clear that everyone needs a good night’s sleep to function properly the next day. I know that I personally need at least seven hours to be productive the next day. Figure this number out for yourself and make a date with your bed each night. Your body will thank you! If you are having trouble falling asleep, there are many tools and sleep aids available. Personally, I find having a journal by my bed where I map out the next day’s work and write down any thoughts I might have really helps me fall asleep quickly.

9. Talk to Someone Positive

Sometimes we just need to talk through issues we’re dealing with at school. This can be very helpful when trying to understand difficult situations or when trying to figure out solutions to problems. However, you must be careful who you speak with. There is nothing that can drag someone down faster than a group of disgruntled individuals. If every day you go to the teacher’s lounge and join a couple of teachers complaining about their jobs, you will not be able to fight teacher burnout. My advice to you would be to stay away from those who are disgruntled. Instead, find someone who has a positive outlook on life and talk about teaching with them.

10. Celebrate What It Means to Be a Teacher

Think back to why you became a teacher. You can refer to this top ten list of why teaching is an awesome profession. if it might help. Always remember that teachers are important and valuable to society. Remember and cherish any time that a student gives you a compliment or writes you a teacher appreciation note. One way to celebrate the high points in your teaching career is to create an ‘I Make a Difference Scrapbook‘.

Click on the link to read I Also Had a Student Hold a Toy Gun to my Face

Standardized Testing Sucking the Love Out of Teaching (Video)

May 26, 2013

 

 

Many teachers have had their love of teaching eroded because of the emphasis on standardized testing. The teacher featured in this powerful video above, uses YouTube to resign from a profession she once loved.

I found this quote to be most compelling:

“Raising students’ test scores on standardized tests is now the only goal. And in order to achieve it, the creativity, flexibility and spontaneity that create authentic learning environments have been eliminated. Everything I loved about teaching is extinct.”

 

Click on the link to read Teachers Who Cheat are “as Dumb as Hell”

Click on the link to read Standardized Tests for Teachers!

Click on the link to read Oops, We Seem to Have Lost Your Exams

Click on the link to read I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!

Click on the link to read Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching

 

Do You Really Want to Arm Me?

December 19, 2012

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Never take a suggestion from a gun advocate seriously.

What’s a person calling themselves a ‘gun advocate’ anyway? Out of every single thing in the world that you can use to represent who you are and what your world view is, who in their right mind would choose to align themselves with deadly weapons?

“I was thinking of becoming a charity worker or humanitarian but I decided to aim higher and lobby for the freedom to store deadly weapons in my attic.”

Anyway, back to their insane suggestion of the month – arming teachers to combat deadly, insane gunmen at schools.

Who do they think we are? Bruce Willis!

Why do you think we need to justify the proliferation of deadly weapons by arming good people with more weapons? Thank Heavens I’m an Australian because I want rulers and pencils and ‘Good Effort’ stickers in my top drawer – not a pistol!

In the terrible event of a situation like the one we saw at Sandy Hook Primary School, I would do everything in my powers to protect my students – including taking bullets for them. But let’s face it – I’m no action hero. A teaching degree shouldn’t depend on a high score at the shooting range and the ability to put together a rifle blindfolded. Teachers have enough to worry about in their classroom -gun handling should not be included in the mix. It should be about classroom management not firearm management.

And don’t give me that rubbish about ‘guns are like cars, it’s the people that use them that can cause harm’. The purpose of a car is to take you from point A to point B, the purpose of a gun is to kill another living being. And don’t start with the expression ‘misuse’ a gun. Adam Lanza did not ‘misuse’ his gun. He used his gun for it’s direct purpose.

To gun lobbyists and advocates, I have this message for you. You have an opportunity right now to make an important mind shift. You can stand firm and watch your beloved weapons being used to kill innocent school children and moviegoers or you can use your passion and boundless energy to advocate for other causes such as child welfare.

If I wanted to be a cop I would have signed up for the Academy. But I am not policeman material. Instead, I signed up to help students feel safe, cared for, nurtured and educated.

The only tools I want in my holster are whiteboard markers and grey lead pencils.

Click on the link to read Living With Adam Lanza

Click on the link to read School Shooting Showcases the Heroic Nature of Brilliant Teachers

Click on the link to read Let’s Make Sure that this School Shooting is the Last

Click on the link to read Get Rid of Your Guns!

Click on the link to read Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to Children

5 Tips for Stressed Teachers

July 16, 2012

Beth Morrow has provided 5 useful tips for stressed teachers. I particularly agree with number 4:

Take a walk.
Sounds too easy and too good to be true, right? But give walking a try and you may find that with fresh air often comes a fresh perspective. Walking releases endorphins, the body’s natural stress-relieving hormones, which have been proven to increase energy, focus and positive mental processes. In the long run, research shows walking lowers the risk of heart disease and other health-related issues. Best of all, it’s free!

Get Up 15 Minutes Earlier
Or, if you’re a night owl, stay up 15 minutes later. Use this time to plan tomorrow’s activities, read a book, have a cup of tea, meditate, treat yourself to a piece of chocolate and just enjoy the peace that comes with a quiet household. Do NOT use this time to clean house, pay bills, grade assignments or anything which already causes stress during the regular day. You’ll have plenty of time for that once the day kicks into gear.

Seek Out Positive People
Often this is easier said than done. We all have colleagues, family, friends and parents who drag us down, regardless of the issue. You know who they are–they leave you feeling empty, alone, bitter, angry and defeated the instant you see them. Managing stress requires that you limit or eliminate the sources of negative energy around you and focus on the positive. It can be difficult if you discover a longtime friend or teacher next door drags you down, but by limiting your interaction with that person you’ll open up opportunities for interacting with people who inspire, excite and share your enthusiasm for teaching and life.

Just Say No
As teachers, we’re innately programmed to volunteer when others do not. Our guiding mantra–do it for the kids–at times puts more on our plate than we can realistically handle. But being overwhelmed and overscheduled can be detrimental to both you and your students. Make a list of the two or three programs or volunteer opportunities you truly enjoy or believe your students benefit most from and limit your participation to those. Resist the urge to raise your hand when something pops up at staff meetings, even if others claim dire consequences if you don’t help. Be flattered, be pleased your involvement was noticed, then say you’d like someone else to enjoy organizing or participating. If you feel pressured, ask for time to think about it (knowing you’ll just turn them down in private the next day!).

Create Your Own Oasis
The key to making this a successful stress reliever is choose something you love and allow nothing to intrude on that time you’ve created. Maybe Wednesday evenings you can plan dinner at your favorite restaurant. Or go to the newest movie every Saturday afternoon. Money isn’t necessary, however. Lock the bathroom door on Friday nights and treat yourself to a hot bubble bath. Do thirty minutes of yoga every day after school. Lose yourself in your favorite mindless television show. Plan in advance and honor that time no matter what threatens to intrude. After all, if you don’t treat yourself as if you’re worth the time, you can’t expect others to, either.

 

Click here to read my post, ‘Ten Useful Tips for Improving Classroom Management’.

Meeting Targets Over True Academic Progress

July 22, 2011

Well done Monty Neill!  The Executive director of FairTest, reaffirms what I have been saying all along about teachers caught cheating on standardised tests.  Below was my reaction last week to the Atlanta School teaching scandal:

There is no excuse for teachers or officials to cheat.  We are there to provide a moral example for our students, and cheating of any kind is clearly unacceptable.

But we must not leave the matter at that point.  There’s a reason why some teachers have cheated on standardised tests.  Those tests  are anti-education.  They measure success through pressurised outcomes rather than authentic teaching and learning.  They expose teachers to unfair stress and scrutiny and force them the teach to the test, rather than teach to enrich and engage.

Mr. Neill says it even more succinctly:

Focusing solely on punishing the Atlanta school employees who wrongly changed test answers ignores more fundamental problems.

The Georgia investigators found that a primary cause of cheating was “unreasonable” score targets coupled with “unreasonable pressure on teachers and principals.” They concluded that “meeting ‘targets’ by whatever means necessary became more important than true academic progress.”

Misusing standardized exams as the primary factor to make educational decisions encourages score manipulation. Campbell’s Law predicted this result decades ago. It states, “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures, and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

That is precisely what happened in Atlanta. The nation’s students, schools and taxpayers deserve assessment systems that promote ethical behavior, better teaching and stronger learning outcomes.


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