Teaching is a job that never ends, and as a result, it starts to take over every aspect of a teacher’s life. This is bad. You get stressed, which leads to unhealthy behavior, which leads to more stress, and so on!
Healthy, happy students need a healthy, happy teacher.
In this series, we’ll investigate how you can reduce stress and enjoy your classroom more.
But first, could you fill out a five question survey for me? It’ll take you like 90 seconds.
The Core Problem
Why is teaching so stressful? Teaching isn’t a job, it’s at least three jobs:
- Lesson planner: design and deliver creative, meaningful learning experiences
- Student caretaker: you can listen to, interact with, and inspire kids of all types (not just the ones you like)
- Organizer: Your files are labeled, grades are up to date, and desk is cleared
You’re probably really good at (and really enjoy) one of these jobs. You might even have two bright spots. But I’ve never met someone who excels in all three roles.As a result, you always have that nagging feeling that you’re not doing your job well.
Focus On Strengths
The real killer, though, is that we compare our weaknesses to other teachers’ strengths.
Oh man, my organization is terrible. But look at Mrs. Johns! Her room is always immaculate. I’m a bad teacher.
We are much more aware of our weaknesses than our strengths. We’re much more aware of criticism than praise. We tend to linger on the bad, and brush off the good as “no big deal.”
But, you’ll be a lot happier (and successful) if you focus on getting better at what you like to do instead of trying to get better at what you don’t like.
From Psychology Today’s 10 Reasons To Focus On Your Strengths:
You see a growing body of research is finding that people who use their strengths more at work: are happier, experience less stress, feel healthier and have more energy, are more confident…
It seems like common sense, right? If we focus on what we like and what we’re good at, we’ll be happier than if we focus on what we’re not good at and don’t enjoy.
But here’s a big problem: many people aren’t really aware of what their strengths are (even though it’s obvious to everyone around them)!
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Your First Task
So your first task is to make a list: “What am I better at than most teachers?” Try to think of five things. If you can’t do it, ask your spouse, friends, colleagues, etc. Believe me, they know and would love to tell you.
There’s no way to be great at every aspect of teaching, so instead of being nervous about your weaknesses, use your strengths to your advantage.
I know, you’re still worried about those weaknesses. After all, you can’t let the room turn into a garbage pile! When it comes to weaknesses, your new criteria is: “It’s good enough.”
More on that next time…
In future articles, we’ll look at:
- How to set limits
- How to focus on what’s important
- And how to make yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally healthier while teaching.
Photo by Nuddaladden
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