Second Grade Nest: Handling Teacher Stress

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Handling Teacher Stress

This is my sixth year of teaching. And every year, it never fails, I always feel like my mind is spinning. It can be a very stressful job. Lots of changes on teachers. Lots of new acronyms to learn. Lots of things to keep up with. 

Here are a few tips to keep your stress manageable and yourself happy! 
(Keep in mind, these are just my ideas and I am merely a teacher trying to better herself.
My tips may not work for you, but they're working for me so far. )

First, you have to start by putting it in your mind that you will devote yourself to being stress-free. Yes, teaching never stops. Teaching always piles on work for us to do, but we have to make sure that we are humans living our lives, not simply teachers working 12 hours a day (plus weekends). 
Stress-free won't happen unless you truly work for it! 

Find a way that works for you. Here are some ways that help me.
-Copies made before Friday afternoon for the following week.
-Binders to keep all papers organized.
-Lesson plans written by Friday, so you have the weekend to attempt to live school-free.
-Organize papers by day- buy an organizer at WalMart and sort papers by M, T, W, Th, and F! 

Calendars and to-do lists are necessities as teachers. I'm sure you already have one, but try to be even more intentional about writing down what needs to get done (in order of importance).
Make it better: Make it colorful! Use Flair pens, which always make a teacher happy.
Make it even better: Add things to it that you know you'll easily get done that day, so you feel a sense of accomplishment when you can check it off!

My first year of teaching, my daily 'leaving' time was usually 7 p.m. and I'd pack up a bag and take it all home. This year, even at a new school, I'm allowing myself to stay late one night only. The other days (unless there is a meeting), I try to get out by 4:00. It reminds me I do have a life outside of school. I can work out, shower, and get dinner finished by 7:00! More time in the evening to myself.

Most of the time, your administration and the people you work with do want to help you!
If not, find a community of teacher friends outside of your school and ask for help or guidance.
And trust me, there are thousands of teacher bloggers who would LOVE to help you!

Give yourself at least one day a month where you unplug from all electronics. Spend the day without Facebook, Instagram, TV, etc. Get outside, enjoy your family and friends, or just enjoy yourself. Shop. Get a massage. Sit on a bench and enjoy the weather. Sit in a coffee shop and read a real book! 

Don't feel guilty. 
Take one (when you don't have any meetings) and don't do anything. Enjoy yourself. And truly, truly make it a mental health day. Heal yourself. 

Teaching takes up a lot of time. This doesn't mean you should be eating Jimmy Johns, McDonalds, and Chipotle every night. Be good to your body. In 30 years, you'll retire and teaching will be over. Your health and body will be yours forever. Treat it right. 
Something that I do... cook your dinners and pack your lunches on Sunday for the entire week. This will prevent McDonalds drive-thrus at the last minute because you're too busy to cook.

We all know. Teachers don't have ANY time to pee, so if you don't have someone in the building who can easily help you out on a moment's notice... then you have to wait on this tip.
Your body needs water. It will prevent sickness and it will make you feel better in the long run. But don't load up until after 2:00 because if you can't leave your classroom and you have to pee, you may end up with a bigger issue! 

Sometimes, you just need a nothing day. 
This could double as your mental health day, or you could give yourself one day or night a week where you do absolutely nothing. 

Get to a gym or get outside. Either way, get some exercise. 
Makes you happier. Makes you feel more accomplished. Keeps you healthy.
Win- win! 

Administration is always giving us educational books to read. We, ourselves, are always finding new articles and books to read about new ways of teaching.
But, you have to let yourself spend time reading for pleasure. I suggest books that are on the best-sellers lists and also books that require no thinking at all! 

It's clinically proven. Adding an extra hour to your sleep can greatly improve your health. 
Set an earlier bedtime and make sure you are true to it. Turn off the TV, close the laptop, put away the papers you're grading. You need your sleep. 

No matter what... we are teachers. This is our job. We chose this job because we wanted to make a difference in at least one child's life. If you are tired, stressed, worn out, or overwhelmed, you likely won't be giving your kids your best. You only get them for 7 hours a day. Try to make those 7 hours count.

And I'll leave you with this.....
Work SMARTER, not harder. 
Find a way that you can do your very best in the classroom while still taking care of yourself. 


  1. Thank you! I so needed this after these few first weeks of the school year!

    The Second Grade Superkids

  2. Thanks, Jessica! I really needed to be reminded. I'm going to try harder to follow your advice this year because I've been feeling like maybe I'm at the beginning of burnout...
    Sarah from Mrs. Jones Teaches :o)

  3. Love this post, Jessica! We forget how stressed out we are as teachers because it just seems to be a part of the job. I switched schools and grade levels this year and I feel like stress is my middle name. Love this little hacks and ideas. Reminds me I am someone other than a teacher! <3!

    The Applicious Teacher

  4. What good advice, Jessica!! If a teacher doesn't do something to contain the daily stress, s/he won't make it to retirement. I just retired from 43 years of teaching and am so relieved to be out from under all that stress.

  5. Thanks for sharing. It's so important for teachers remember that we deserve to have a life outside of work too!

    My Carolina Classroom

  6. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips to be stress free. I'm going to share them with my coworkers because we are already there and it's only the 4th week of school.

  7. Thank you for sharing these tips. I am in the beginning of my teaching career and taking care of myself is a priority this year.


  8. Your advice is truly appreciated! I am a first year teacher and I've been trying to find ways to eliminate my stress. I will be trying all of these things, thank you!!

  9. Thank you for this! I really need to try to get my lesson plans done before I leave on Fridays so that my Sundays are not so hurry-scurry! Thanks for sharing this great post! I will keep calm and teach on!

  10. This is a terrific post; GREAT reminders! The post title caught my eye because teacher stress is HUGE & I'm reading The Well-Balanced Teacher by Mike Anderson right now. I'm writing a 4-part series as a book study, starting January 6th! Would love for you to stop by! Thanks for your solid advice!!

  11. Great post Jessica!! I love it. Must take care of ME ... And the 29 7 year olds :)

  12. Thank you so much! I needed this more than I even realized :)