Unfortunately, stress is a part of the job when you are a teacher (I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that!). It is easy to get caught up in the stress and let it weigh you down. The good news though is that there are several things you can do to help relieve some of that stress. Use these tips to reduce stress as a teacher.
Training staff reduces teacher stress
Take the time to train your paras in everything they need to know to do their jobs effectively. I mean EVERYTHING! Make sure staff know what systems and expectations for each of these areas:
- Behavior plans
- Class rules and expectations
- How and when to collect data
- Reinforcer systems: when to reinforce, different levels and types of reinforcement, etc.
- Prompting: which prompts to use, the hierarchy of prompting, how to fade their prompts, etc.
- How the schedule will work
- Where to find materials
Also, make sure any therapists that work in your room are fully trained and know what your expectations are as well. It might take some time to fully train everyone, but it will be worth it in the long run. The more the staff working in your room knows, the more smoothly the class will run and the less they will come to you with questions … which all means less teacher stress for you! Check out this blog post on setting up your classroom as if you won’t be there.
delegate to reduce stress
I cannot stress this one enough … you do NOT have to do everything!!! Give responsibilities to your paras that will take things off of your very crowded teacher plate. When you train your staff, assign them each some “jobs” that they will be responsible for and show them exactly how you want those jobs done.
Examples of possible “jobs” to assign to paras:
- Have one para in charge of refilling task bins each afternoon for the next day.
- Assign someone to place the lunch and breakfast orders every day.
- Another person can be in charge of preparing the weekly craft.
I also have a “to-do” list where I write down things that I need to be done (copying, preparing materials, laminating, filing, etc). Anytime my paras have some time, they take care of completing the things on the list. I am very specific about what I need to be done when it needs to be done, and where it goes once it is finished. Delegating tasks to others has been a lifesaver for me!
Visuals are a great tool for reducing teacher stress
This goes right along with taking the time to train your staff because the more they know, the less they will have to bother you. I encourage my paras to ask questions when they are not sure about something, but I also try to set things up so there won’t be many times when that’s necessary.
I use visuals all over my classroom for both my students and staff. We have a visual schedule so that everyone knows exactly what should be happening when and for how long. I also hang up my weekly lesson plans where my paras can see them. That way if I have to be out of the room, they know what activity they should be doing.
It’s also beneficial to hand out and post schedules for our work stations or centers which ensures that everyone knows which students they are working with for each station. There are visuals posted for the prompting hierarchy and my data collection system. These are great reminders for everyone and they can always refer to the visuals if they are unsure of something. Visuals are a great tool for both students and staff and will take some of the teacher stress off of you!
Click the picture below to grab a FREE copy of the prompt hierarchy and language prompt visuals for your classroom:
templates & checklists
Whenever I have something that is recurring (like weekly lesson plans), I make a template for it. Then I just have to plug things into the template and I’m good to go. Items to use templates with include:
- student reinforcer strips or work for cards
- data collection sheets
- daily & reminder notes to families
- lesson plans
Using templates has saved me so much time and stress! I’m also a big fan of making checklists. There are so many things that need to get done (testing, assessments, IEPs, etc), so instead of trying to remember it all (what needs to get done, who still needs to take an assessment, which IEPs are complete), I make a checklist for each thing. It’s an easy way to keep track of things, I don’t have to keep it all in my head, and I can see the progress I’m making as I check things off. Save those checklists as a template and save even more time!
setting boundaries reduces stress for teachers
By this I mean, don’t let school take over your home life. Come up with a plan and stick to it. For example: only check your work email once each evening, no school work on Sundays, only work on school “stuff” at home until a certain time. Whatever works for you, just make the plan and then stick to it. Your stress levels will decrease immensely if you set boundaries and try to separate school and home.
Being a teacher is a stressful job. It is important that we do what we can to relieve some of that stress. Reducing stress as a teacher is critical to avoiding burnout. Try these tips, I think you will see a big difference!