Stress in Teaching

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Guardian Newspaper September 2012

Posted on October 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Chris Hunt, psychotherapist, life-coach, author of ‘Stress inTeaching’ Winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2012

One Hundred new terms and counting!

Teacherstaking time off with stress-related illnesses need help and support. They account for an estimated £4.5 million each year in school costs. There is aduty of care.

 

 

 I have started many a school year just like the students: keen to get going, shaking the BBQ’s out of my system, seeing which of my forgotten ‘school’ trousers’ still fit, storing the rest of the summer wine in a cupboard ready to be consumed at the weekend, and dusting off the briefcase from where I left it in those heady days at the end of July!
So what’s next on my agenda? Performance management will start again: just as onerous for managers as for NQTs, the exam results, dread and excitement in equal measure: avoiding the head’s gaze or trying to catch it on the first day, depending on how well my students have done. How quickly the first few weeks go: like the holiday never happened. And every day there is a new challenge: reports having to be written ridiculously early, open day to get ready for, etc. etc. Why did I moan about putting the gazebo up last month!I have had exactly one hundred terms like this: 33 Septembers. I have really loved it!However there have been times when I have carried on with a sense of fear, especially on certain days of the week. I have even started to dread those days. If things hadn’t improved, my self-confidence might have dropped, my life affected, not just my teaching.So here are some of my top tips for thestart of the school year, ways of reducing the stress before it has evenstarted, or as Bill Shankly, the great Liverpool manager once said, ‘Get your retaliation in first’!

1.    Don’t try to be perfect. Nobody is, and all you can do is fail. Allow yourself to failand learn. It’s called being human! "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently." Henry Ford

2.    Get out of your ‘Black and White thinking’: this is where everything is either good or bad, including the students! Allow for shades of different colour in your teaching and in your life.

3.    Don’t define your existence by calling yourself a teacher: make sure there are plentyof other things you enjoy.

4.    Whenthings get on top of you, re-frame your thinking. There might be a student who disrupts your year 9 class, but how many good kids in the room make up for that?

5.    The only way to solve a problem is to solve it! Teachers are good at knowing what to do when something is not right, but not very good at doing it! Talk to a colleague about things more often than eating comfort food at break! (Although the odd cream cake can work wonders)!

6.    Don’t be a yes man/woman. If a colleague is constantly telling you how stressful the job is, you don’t always have to agree. Challenging negative communication can be good for both sides.

7.    Keep your ‘to-do’ list up to date, and do it! It’s one of the biggest stress relievers.

8.    Stop telling everyone how busy you are: it becomes self-fulfilling.

9.    Seek advice from teachers you trust.

10.  My top tip: talk to students on corridors,especially the ones you don’t get on with in class! It really affects and improves your relationships, and therefore the teaching and learning in your lessons.

You could just count up to 10: but rememberthe words of the immortal of Nigel Tufnel in Spinal Tap, ‘yes but the dial on my amp goes up to 11’! 

Keep smiling, when you’ve retired you’ll miss the hurly-burly, and talk about your school like it’s an old friend. Enjoy!

 


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