It’s Sunday evening, the weekend time with your precious family is over and it is time to start thinking about the 5 day school week ahead. You have 2 IEPs to write, data to collect for Student A’s Functional Behavior Assessment, math lessons to plan and a BASC report to write.
Does thinking about this make you anxious too?
Anxiety is a tough thing to work through, on your own or through therapy. It can take months, years… even then it’s a constant work in progress.
As a teacher in today’s society, it can be even harder to handle anxiety. Social media makes everything seem so perfect, so idealistic, and for so many… unattainable.
Not everyone has the Pinterest-perfect classroom and the color-coded substitute binder and that is okay. You have to be YOU-whatever that looks like.
Sometimes I let my anxiety, also known as Dolores, get the best of me at times and I am here to share with you some simple lessons that Teacher Anxiety has taught me.
Knowing tricks for managing teacher anxiety can be vital to getting through it. To find the best tips, we asked the teachers in Mrs. D’s VIPs Facebook Group for their best advice. If you haven’t joined yet, we would love to have you!
Look for the Positive Parts of the Day
Okay, so you got kicked by Student A when he had a meltdown, Student B had a bathroom accident during the middle of a math lesson and both of your paraprofessionals were absent today. However, I want you to forget about the crazy not-so-perfect things that happened and find something positive to say and mentally tell yourself.
“All of my students had smiles on their faces and gave me a high five as we walked out to the bus.”
Simple, but true.
Sometimes the kids don’t notice the crazy like we adults do. Some days you have to embrace the chaos and just take a deep breath and remember – it’s just a bad day, not a bad life. One bad day does not make you a bad teacher either.
The To-Do List Never Ends and That Is Okay
Once you become a teacher, you quickly realize that your “to-do list” has become longer than ever. While it feels so good to check things off and there are things that HAVE to get done on certain days, there will always be something else to add to the list throughout the year and you will most likely never feel “caught up” as a teacher.
Something that I like to do to help ease my teacher anxiety is figure out what things should go on my must-do list, maybe-do list and do-later list with this Free Priorities Checklist.
Teacher guilt is a real thing and while we might think that doing all of our paperwork over the weekend is a good idea because we will be less stressed on Monday, we have to prioritize and make time for ourselves, our families and our mental health as well. Here are some Quick Tips to Hush Teacher Guilt on Weekends.
Ask for Help
Whether you have an amazing team or at least one teacher bestie, do not hesitate to ASK FOR HELP for when you feel overwhelmed.
It is definitely a difficult thing to do, but people love to help each other. Maybe if you have another special education teacher that you work with, you can look at the plans for the week and divide and conquer. Maybe the speech therapist can push in twice a week and do a lesson so you can get some observations in on your students.
Whatever it is that you need help with, figure out how you can help ease some stress during the school day.
When school seems stressful and crazy, it quickly carries over to your home life. I don’t know about you, but if I have a cluttered living room, piled-up laundry and dishes in the sink all week, I am definitely not happy and stress-free when I come home.
Not everyone can do it but if you are able to, hiring out help can sometimes take some anxiety away from keeping up on all the home chores. Having a cleaning service come twice per month and ordering grocery pickup on Friday nights may help you take a deep breath and enjoy your time at home to unwind more.
More Lessons Anxiety Has Taught Me
Recognize That It Is Real. If you’re worried that you are the only one who feels anxiety about teaching, know that you are not alone. It can be scary, it can be overwhelming, and it can be managed. Know that you will get through it.
No One Has It All Together. One of the most significant anxiety-producing thoughts is that everyone else has it all together, and you are the only one who does not. The good news is that no one has it all together all of the time. You are not alone!
You Don’t Get Paid Enough for It to Consume Your Life. Your life is not only about teaching. When you start to experience a wave of teacher anxiety, take a deep breath, and focus on other areas of your life. You are more than a teacher; don’t let it consume you.
Set Clear Boundaries. Don’t be afraid to leave when your contract day ends and not bring work home with you. When you need the time to focus on family and other areas of your life, setting the boundary that school work will not seep over into those times is entirely healthy.
There Will Be Good Days and There Will Be Bad Days. When you anticipate ahead of time that not all days will be perfect, you give yourself grace for those days that don’t go to plan. Everyone has bad days, and everyone has great days – you will too.
Take Care of Yourself. The need for self-care is real. Take those Mental Health Days if you have them. Get a massage after school a couple of times a month. Leave work at school on the weekends and enjoy time with your family and friends. The healthier and stronger you are, the less the anxiety will affect you so profoundly.
Exercise. Getting up and moving around – even if it’s a dance party with your students on days that seem overwhelming – can release endorphins and make you feel better. Walk around the playground at recess, run on the treadmill when you get home, practice yoga before you go to bed – do something good for your body.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help. When you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted colleague. Find a fellow teacher who lifts you up and can be your support system when things get tough.
Teacher anxiety is a real thing and a major cause of teacher burnout, especially in special education. Remember to take care of your physical and mental health to help reduce some of the stress and anxiety in your life.
How do you handle anxiety as a teacher? Share with us in the comments below or in our free VIP Facebook group!
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