EducationWorld is committed to bringing educators the practical tools they need to make good decisions, engage in effective leadership and implement strategies that work. To further this commitment, we have formed a content partnership with Stenhouse Publishers. EducationWorld is pleased to feature a variety of book excerpts as part of this collaboration. Check back frequently as we feature additional excerpts from Stenhouse titles.
The following excerpt comes from Chapter 2 of 55 Teaching Dilemmas: Ten Powerful Solutions to Almost Any Classroom Challenge, by Kathy Paterson (Pembroke Publishers, 2005; distributed in the U.S. by Stenhouse Publishers). The book sells for $18 on the Stenhouse Web site.
This excerpt offers tips that help educators reduce stress and develop good self-care habits. See other excerpts from this book: Defusing Power Struggles and Using Compassion to Build Positive School Climate.
Stress-Promoting Life Traps
Indispensability Syndrome: If you suffer from this, remove the idea from your mind. No one is indispensable. Think of a teacher who has had to take a long period away from school. In most cases, the class survived perfectly in her absence.
Workaholism: Teachers are often workaholics—they work long hours and wear themselves out. Remember the proverb about “all work and no play.” Remember also that the more fatigued you are, the less likely you are to teach well and the more likely you are to get ill.
Success Addiction: Our culture admires successful people, yet teaching seldom seems to be viewed as an admired or esteemed profession. Possibly to overcome this societal oversight, teachers may feel driven to work faster and harder all the time—a sure stress trap. It is better to remind ourselves that spending quality time with the students is more important than spreading ourselves so thin that no one benefits.
Multi-tasking Nightmare: If you find you are doing too many things, moving too quickly, seldom completing anything well, then you may be suffering from this stress promoter. It’s time to take stock—and make choices. Research has shown that tasks completed by a “multi-tasker” are often not finished as well as the same tasks done by someone who spends more time and focus on the activity.
Type A Personality: Many teachers are Type A personalities: driven to be excessively competitive, impatient, and often suffering from a sense of urgency. They can even be overly assertive, even aggressive, with others who interfere with their forward rush of activity. If you recognize this about yourself, realize the inherent stress traps.
Insecurity: Has it been worth it? Am I good enough? Teachers who constantly self-question and second-guess themselves like this may be heading for a stress breakdown. It may be better to focus only on “positive completions” in order to break a cycle of doubt.
Superman Complex: The teachers who take on more and more responsibility with the belief they will never break down are jumping head first into a stress trap. Know your personal limits; if you are unaware of them, listen to friends, family members, or peers who are usually quick to comment on them.
Not-My-Fault Syndrome: The teachers who constantly view students functioning below expectations as “not their fault” are playing a blame game that can lead to feelings of guilt and stress. It is good to remember that when a student fails, a teacher fails even more.
Poor-Me Syndrome: “My job is too tough.” “I don’t get paid enough for all this stress.” Teachers who constantly complain about their jobs or feel sorry for themselves are heading toward stress breakdowns. If the job is not for you, perhaps you are wise to consider a change.
Reinventing-the-Wheel Addiction: Teachers who believe that only the material they create is good enough for their students constantly “create” new worksheets, tasks, activities, or units. They are in a sure stress trap. With ample excellent resources available, there is no need to constantly originate materials.
The Wendy Syndrome: Based on Peter Pan’s Wendy, who mothered all the Lost Boys, this syndrome concerns teachers who mistakenly feel they can help everyone all the time. The stress of trying to live up to these unrealistic expectations can build quickly.
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