I totally get it! Teachers are stressed – hopefully not too bad now after the Christmas holidays but teaching can be an extremely testing and stressful job. There seems to be constant demands and expectations, never ending to do lists and your best is not always good enough. I’m writing this blogpost as I’m seeing an increasing amount of messages on Facebook groups/pages from stressed out teachers, articles in newspapers, videos and more.
When I first moved home to Ireland (after teaching in the UK) I had no job. I had applied for a lot of jobs before I left England but to no avail. As the end of August was approaching I was really beginning to feel stressed as we had just moved into an apartment, had rent and bills to pay and I was going a little bit mad with applications coming out of my ears. Eventually I got called to interview for a school that was close enough to where we were living, the interview went well but I never heard anything, a week later I had another interview (2 days before the school year was due to start) and thankfully got the job – in the school I’m currently working in (which I love).
Stress and me go together – I’ve always been easily stressed and have always found stress difficult to deal with. As the end of my first school year in Dublin approached – the stress levels began to increase. The commute to my school was too long and I was finding that difficult but I loved the school and wanted to stay, I had been in a resource position and I wanted a class. The apartment we were living in was in a bad condition (damp problems) and overall I was extremely overwhelmed with home and school life. I inevitably got sick and was out of school for over 2 weeks (coming up to interview time of course which again didn’t help with the stress.
Since then I’ve made a few changes to help myself deal better with stress and worry and I find I don’t get sick as often as I did, I’m happier and when things are hectic I can deal with it and not let myself become too overwhelmed. This is something I’ve been working on over the last 5 years and I’m not entirely stress free and still do get overwhelmed but I’m much better than I was.
I try my best to have some ‘me’ time on a daily basis. This may be 10 minutes in the morning when I arrive into school – I get a cup of tea and just sit at my desk and do nothing or it may be a walk in the evening or a cup of tea and a flick through Instagram watching my favourite bloggers. Sometimes it’s a gym session/swim or a bath too! And of course a Netflix binge is always beneficial!
I chat with my boyfriend when I’m feeling particularly stressed about something. He’s not a teacher (which is brilliant) as he can give a different perspective on things and it really helps.
I also have a great group of friends who I meet up with regularly after school and having a laugh and sharing things which are bothering me really helps!
I commute to school with one of my colleagues (and friends). The commute can be up to an hour in the morning so it’s a great chance to chat and talk through different things. On the commute home – we sometimes discuss things that might have happened during the school day which we’re annoyed/upset about and then by the time we get home it doesn’t seem so bad.
Write it down
I find when I have a million things running around my head I get really bogged down so I write them all down (from the smallest 2 minute job to the bigger 2 month job). Then I tick them off as I get them done – there’s a great sense of accomplishment when you look back at all the things you got done! I’ve recently started bullet journaling which I love and would highly recommend.
There are tons of jobs that other teachers, SNA’s or even the children themselves would be happy to do. Tidying the class library, hanging up an art display, cutting out resources, organising books/copies, sorting art materials – these are jobs which may take a lot of time but which other people are more than happy to help with – so ask! Children (especially in the older classes) are so delighted to be included in these tasks and jobs and enjoy the few minutes break from work.
I tend to dive head first into getting involved in every group and committee in school. I’ve learned over the last year or so that this is simply not sustainable. Realistically 2-3 things is more than enough for any teacher to be involved in. Saying no sorry I can’t help with that is perfectly acceptable!
Cut down on paperwork
My main aim for this year is to cut down on unnecessary paperwork – my fortnightly plan is now 2 pages in length – I’ve started meeting with a group of colleagues (all with 5th class) and we do our plan together – saves on time and it means we can collaborate and share resources and ideas for each topic.
Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in all things school related. Whether you are a student teacher who is spending every waking moment on plans and resources, folders and assessments or an NQT on planning, organising, displays or an experienced teacher doing too much and spending all their free time on school related activities (both in terms of teaching and planning and extra curricular activities too) – you need to make sure to have other things in your life too because if a major part of your identity is you as Ms/Mr ____ then when things aren’t going so well – stress becomes your whole life rather than one part.