A stressed teacher? Seems quite weird since we are used to seeing cheerful teachers who are always on the move, motivate and empower their students. However, now ESL teachers, along with teachers in other fields, have heavier responsibilities than before, and studies show that teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in comparison to other occupations.
Teachers have got a rather novel role. They are no longer looked at as mere transferors of knowledge. They are expected to empathize with learners, try to motivate them and encourage them to participate in classroom activities, and, generally speaking, to help facilitate learning. In addition to all these roles, they also need to engage in many other tasks such as paperwork, evaluating students, preparing for the class, remaining up-to-date with their teaching area, and preparing their teaching materials. At the same time, they have to deal with parents, colleagues, administrative authorities, and students, all of which can affect them psychologically. The general outcome of the lesson depends on the quality of interactions between students and teachers. Therefore, attention to teachers’ needs and concerns is very important to keep the learning quality on a high level.
Here, we’ll address the most common stress triggers for English teachers and the ways in which you can deal with them to have a more peaceful teaching life.
Overdoing the Work
A lot of ESL teachers, particularly beginners, believe that their lessons must remind of shows in order to lead to fruitful results. This means they try to take students from one activity to another seamlessly and with one sole purpose in mind: they must not get bored. This poses several problems. First of all, it’s exhausting! Secondly, everybody needs some quiet time to work, even students. If you plan your activities in a way that demands high-energy and a great deal of participation from your side, you’ll wear yourself out, and this can’t be good for you or your students.
How to cut down on stress: Remember you’re not a performer who has to keep your students entertained for the whole lesson. Set realistic expectations, plan some quiet activities between more active ones, and give yourself some little time to breathe. Remember: you’re not a one-man/woman show!
Preparing and gathering materials
A lot of ESL teachers are overwhelmed at first by the sheer amount of materials they must prepare for a single group of students, e.g. flashcards, worksheets, photocopies, games, etc. If you find yourself spending every evening after work simply preparing for the following day’s activities, you probably have a terrible lack of time for you.
How to cut down on stress: In order to free up some extra time for yourself, it is highly recommended that you take at least a couple of hours a week to plan an entire week’s worth of lessons and gather the materials you will need for them. By concentrating all of your efforts into this special planning session, you’ll manage better the rest of your week.
Managing your class
If you’re stressed out because you have ill-behaved students, you need to implement some heavy-duty classroom management strategies. You need to set limits for your students, help them come up with rules they agree to follow, and provide adequate rewards.
How to cut down on stress: Check out this link to get useful classroom management strategies.
Some other useful tips to fight «ESL Stress»:
- Don’t rush to finish everything at the last minute. Plan in advance. Leave 15 minutes earlier and get to school with plenty of time to relax or chat with your colleagues before the class.
- Schedule activities every week for pure enjoyment. Go to the movie, take some dance classes, get a membership in a local fitness club, etc. You need to unwind your mind from time to time to be energized for your classes.
- Get a full eight hours of sleep. The iPhone has a cool feature that allows you to set a reminder to yourself to get ready to go to bed to get the amount of sleep you designate.
- Stay away from negativity. We all have colleagues that are constantly gossiping, complaining, and venting. Try to avoid these people. Instead, find colleagues that inspire you, spend time with them, and connect with them. They will lift your spirits, share ideas, and just give you that warm fuzzy feeling. Seek them out.
- Make a «Must Do» and a «May Do» list for yourself. Items on the «Must Do» list are high priority and must be done immediately. The items on the «May Do» list can be left out to be done if you have got some extra time.
ESL stressors may vary from classroom management difficulties to physical and emotional tiredness. As wise teachers, each of us needs to figure out the main things which make us stressed out and try to get rid of them and enjoy the teaching process. Through my teaching experience, I have had times when I was very stressed and all these tips helped me to beat stress and get the most out of classes.