C.M. Corner ? Stress

Travis Chapman

We are down to the final weeks of the school year, the grass is turning green, flowers are blooming and the birds are singing.  However, as the school year ends, stress seems to increase.  Often times this stress amplifies or even creates some of the classroom management issues that we face in our positions, whether the stress is coming out in our attitudes or causing us to be more sensitive to various situations.  This week, with the help of our Substitute Services Team, we are going to take a look at some ways to help us reduce stress in our own lives to help positively influence our students.
Proactively, get enough sleep and eat healthy meals regularly throughout the day.  These things may seem to be no-brainers or you may think, I don’t have time for that, but being tired and/or hungry will cause stress to spike. Your body has to work harder to do things and your emotions are less controlled when your body’s physical needs aren’t being met.  Young children have meltdowns when they are both tired and hungry and in a sense, so do we as adults.  The more we can do to meet our own physical needs before hand, the easier it will be to maintain our own attitudes.
Some days, you set yourself up so well to handle stress, you planned, you took precautions, you got it down, but the students you’re working with find new and creative ways to press on (or slam) your buttons.  If it is a stressful day, at an appropriate time, take a few minutes to just breathe.  This could be 3 deep breaths or 10 minutes of focused breathing.  Deep breathing has been known to reduce stress and help refocus.  If you’re not sure how to “deep breathe”, there are a number of free apps you can download to help get you started (Calm and Stop, breathe and think! are a couple good free ones).  Also, our Wisconsin Team Lead, Cristina, will use her break time to grab some coffee and look at pictures of her husband and cats, focusing on the positive things in her life.  Another member of our Substitute Services Team, Kailie, finds stretching and meditation to be great stress reducers saying, “Just 10-15 minutes of some low impact yoga/stretching and I feel so much better!”
After you’ve work an assignment, make sure to leave it there.  It is one day and it is over.  Learn to let it go and move on.  Carmen, in our office, says she lives by this quote from Anne Lamott, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes . . . including you.”  She says that she takes time for herself, plays with her dog, figures out dinner, etc., but turns off her phone.  Being able to step away and “reset” can help let go of whatever stress is or has happened.  Maybe you have responsibilities to address or a family to care for, but even the simple act of turning off your phone can alleviate a lot of stress.  Personally, if I know it will be a stressful week/day, I find some way to reward myself, whether a special meal, plan vacation or simply stop at one of the cool ice cream shops around the cities.  But each of us is different, so do something meaningful to you – volunteer, get outside, take a class, reconnect with friends, plan a game night, spend time with your kids/family or hire a babysitter and take a night to yourself. 
Charles Swindoll says, “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.”  The better we manage and handle the stress in our lives, the better our attitude and approach will be in our classrooms, which in turn will most of the time improve overall classroom behavior.  Not everything will work the same for each person.  The key is to find some that work well for you and to use them intentionally to reduce stress.  The less we are worried about our own stress, the easier it will be to manage behavior in the classroom. 
And lastly, know that we truly do appreciate all that you do in our schools.  You are making a difference in the lives of students each and everyday.  If you have any questions, or suggestions of your own, please reach out to us by posting in the comments section or at training@teachersoncall.com.