If you’re looking to streamline your habits to reduce stress, consider working these ideas into your planning and practice.
1. Narrow down the scope of what you’re trying to cover in that lesson
Keep things lean; moderate your preparation time and remember the Pareto principle, or “80-20 rule”: 80 percent of the benefit occurs in the first 20 percent of preparation time. Snipping preparation time focuses your attention on what matters and gives you more time to develop and use active learning exercises that involve students.
2. Deliver simple concepts
Convolution is alienating and using jargon is annoying so aim to keep things relatable, relevant, pragmatic but still challenging. Keep it accessible in order to provoke learning and to cut through concepts with insight.
3. If it sounds boring, it is. Don’t bother with it.
Set the bar high and communicate your ideas with intensity and inspire students to turn up for your sessions with hunger in their bellies.
4. Choose your attitude!
If you are uptight and you force a smile, then everyone will spot this as ‘fake news’. Smiles inspire students to be positive and energetic and they are more likely to enjoy your lectures. Your persona is everything so be happy!
5. Put aside weekly thinking time to allow your brain to be creative
Teaching can dominate but always make time for learning through thinking time, silences and review. Information is more likely to be retained if we provide students with opportunities to retrieve, self-assess and reflect on that information – and the same is true of you.
6. Let it go…
Time spent feeling ‘guilty’ could be used more productively and ‘dwelling’ won’t contribute to your recovery and resilience. Some things are just outside of your control and it is important to accept this. Be kind on yourself and be excited by the fact that you aren’t the finished article – no one is.
7. Get feedback and drop what no one is benefitting from
Stephen Brooke in his book ‘Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, explains his use of Critical Incident Questionnaires (CIQs) to gather weekly feedback from his students about moments when they felt especially engaged or disengaged from the learning experience.
8. And finally – if you are genuinely happy in life, it will come across in your lessons!
Always aim to balance work and play and pay attention to your down time, breaks, days off, social life and holidays by focusing on your health, wellbeing and exercise for a meaningful life that is balanced. It won’t ever be stress-free but it can be taking care of yourself will help you manage what comes your way. An unbalanced obsession with work excludes laughter and playfulness as well as personal and professional development.
About the author
John is an ex-primary school teacher and Ofsted inspector who has spent the last 20 years working in the education industry as a teacher, writer and editor. John’s specialist area is primary maths but he also loves teaching science and English. John has written a number of educational and children’s books, and contributed over 1,000 articles and features to various educational bodies. John is eTeach’s school leadership and Ofsted advice guru, sharing insights on best practice for motivating and enriching a school team, as well as sharing savvy career steps for headteachers and SLT.