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De-stress your classroom: stress management and well-being for teachers and students

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Marie Delaney trained in the UK as an Educational Psychotherapist, English Language and Modern Foreign Languages Teacher and Teacher Trainer. Marie has extensive experience of working with pupils who are experiencing difficulties at school. Today, she joins us ahead of her webinar, ‘De-stress your classroom: stress management and well-being for teachers and students’, to discuss what she will be covering in the sessions.

Teaching and learning can be fun and energising. However, many teachers and students nowadays feel pressurised, stressed and de-motivated. Teachers all over the world seem to be faced with increasingly unrealistic expectations, scarce resources, widely diverse student needs as well as the continuing challenge not to be replaced by new technologies. Surveys suggest that students also have increased levels of anxiety and stress around school and future prospects.

We need, therefore, to be looking at the issue of teacher and student well-being. How can we reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety in our classrooms? We need to begin by recognising and acknowledging them. Suppressing and denying feelings of stress will often lead to physical and emotional burnout. Stressed teachers are not effective. It is important to focus on conscious coping strategies for managing our own well-being so that we can best support our students.

Strategies to promote teacher well-being include:

  • Eating properly, getting enough sleep and regular exercise.
  • Spending time on activities which you love doing. Find time for your interests and passions.
  • Becoming aware of people and tasks which energise you and those which drain you. Make sure you are creating time in your day/week for those which give you energy and positive feelings.
  • Talking through issues with supportive colleagues, who do not need to provide solutions but who can listen non-judgementally. Avoid moaning sessions with negative colleagues, which do not make anyone feel any better.
  • Practising positive self-talk and catching your own unhelpful thoughts. Be kind to yourself and don’t expect perfection.
  • Trying to stay in the moment and enjoy it.
  • Noticing what is working and doing more of that, rather than paying attention only to problems

When we start to do these things more consciously we can begin to share the ideas with students. Many of them do not possess good coping strategies for times of stress and anxiety. They need to learn how to get into positive states for learning. For example, music can be used as a positive trigger or anchor to bring classes into a calm mood for learning. It is worth spending some time helping students to identify other positive triggers for their own moods and encouraging them to use them to get into the right frame of mind for learning.

It can be useful to teach students how thoughts can affect feelings and behaviour. For example, optimistic thoughts can influence a student’s success. An optimistic student who gets 5/10 thinks ‘That’s good, I know half of this, I need now to look at what I got wrong and see who can help me get it right. A pessimistic student who gets the same mark, thinks ‘Oh no, I’m so stupid, I might as well give up now’. These thoughts will affect their feelings and their behaviour in the approach to the next test.

The webinar on 22nd and 23rd October will explore this topic in more detail and suggest further ways for teachers to de-stress their classrooms.

Register for the webinar

Author: Oxford University Press ELT

The official global blog for Oxford University Press English Language Teaching. Bringing teachers and other ELT professionals top quality resources, tools, hints and tips, news, ideas, insights and discussions to help further their ELT career. Follow Oxford ELT on Twitter. Find Oxford ELT on Google+.

4 thoughts on “De-stress your classroom: stress management and well-being for teachers and students

  1. Pingback: De-stress your classroom: stress management and well-being for teachers and students | Elite Language Consulting

  2. Looking forward to reading more!!!

  3. Nice thoughts about stress management at classroom! I completely agree with you that spending more time on favourite activities matters and could lead you to the positive attitude, even if things are not so simple as it seems. Besides, I found one another great article which is either provides interesing ideas for overcoming the stress. Here it is: https://unplag.com/blog/teacher-stress-8-strategies-to-manage-work-pressure/

    Meanwhile, it seems that your webinar will be interesting. I should free some time on 23rd October

  4. The big problem many teachers today face is stress, and the schools are stuck in a choke hold because of this.
    Especially in many developing countries where the school system is lead by capitalism.
    School principals and CEO’s are torn between the well being of their teachers and making money.
    It is a natural thing to think about for a teacher: Keep improving the quality.
    Although many principals agree, this would also mean that schools need to “separate the chaff from the wheat.”
    Unfortunately, many principals are not willing to completely doing this in fear of losing students.

    So what do we get? Big differences in skills inside the classrooms, teachers need to work harder in order to make sure the students who shouldn’t even be in their class follow the lessons and loss of motivation.

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