When I explain to people what my job is like, I tell them it’s like working in a FAST FOOD Restaurant. Every 40 minutes, seven to eight times a day, I have a new group of customers come through the door looking to be “fed”. That totals up to over two hundred students a day! Some are very hungry (want to learn), some are kinda hungry (might want to learn) and some aren’t hungry at all (don’t want to learn). That’s why I came up with 12 teacher tips to be stress free.
12 TEACHER TIPS TO BE STRESS FREE
So just like at a fast food restaurant, I have customers. They come in all sizes, shapes, personalities and needs. As the music teacher, it’s tough to keep everyone’s name and personal information in my head sometimes. (And frustrating!)
So that’s why I’ve gone the direction of my heart! If I can remember a kids name, then I say- but I love you and you are amazing. I know you! And smile at them right up close and maybe give a hug or something to let them know it’s true. It’s one of my favorite tips to be stress free.
And just like a fast food restaurant, some customers can be very picky and others tend to jump right on in and devour whatever you put on their plate.
As the “cook”, it’s tough to come up with a recipe that suits everyone. My personal goal is to have my customers come into the “dining” room and partake of all the wonderful assortment of musical delicacies I’ve prepared for them so they leave the music room wanting seconds!
Ha! But what happens when I didn’t get the recipe right? What happens if there’s a fire drill and I don’t have time to “cook” the recipe? What happens when 90% of the students “aren’t hungry”?
That’s when the real cookin’ begins- and the stress hormones kick in. It’s as if I’m inside a pressure cooker that’s about to over heat.
When my customers come into the music room, I’m prepared to give them a musical experience, but it doesn’t always work out. That’s why I thought about some tips to be stress free. (Or is it possible?)
WHY 12 TIPS to be Stress Free?
Over the years I’ve discovered some key “ingredients” that help me to “cook up” a decent menu no matter what happens. But, it’s stressful and I go home discouraged or analyzing how I could have done better.
That’s why I’m sharing 12 teacher tips to be stress free in the hopes that some of these ideas will help you too.
Honestly, I want my lessons to be cooked to perfection, but real life happens to all teachers. I might have a bad headache, or be out sick for a day, or it’s the week before a break and the kids are “wild”,and like most people, at the end of the work week.
Or, I’m tired, have a million errands to run and just want to get to my weekend.
Through the years I’ve learned that if I stick to my recipe each day and on a weekly basis, I am much calmer as a teacher and a person and can greet my customers with a smiling face and deliver that recipe in the best way possible.
Ultimately, everyone has little rituals they perform daily. Do you wake up and go straight to the shower? Do you do meditation, yoga, or some other “centering” activity? Do you go to the kitchen to prepare breakfast?
Of course I have my own set of rituals, and they’ve changed significantly over the years depending on who else is part of my routine. (meaning my kids have all left the nest now and it’s just 2!)
I’m committed to maintaining my morning rituals so that the rest of the day runs smoothly.
Although challenging, it’s my most effective tip to be stress free.
Keep reading to get the FREE 12 teacher tips to be stress free booklet and poster.
Now twelve tips may seem like a lot of things to do-but this is over the time period of a week. I’m also realistic- yes, I am- of course I have days and weeks, where I can’t keep up with all of these things-but I’ve found that the compound effect of striving towards and doing many of them really makes a difference.
So, here are the 12 teacher tips to be stress free.
I’m hoping you’ll let me know what yours are after you’re done reading-and, I’ve got a freebie for you too.
1-Keep Smiling (My most rewarding tip to be stress free.)
Have you noticed that the restaurants that are popular have the nicest waitresses/waiters?
Did you know that the act of smiling releases endorphins? Yep!
I’ll let you in on a secret… I have a mirror in my room and sometimes I go over to it and make myself smile-even if I don’t feel like doing it!
2-Complete Communications by the End of the Day
(My least favorite tip to be stress free.)
Sometimes I don’t have time during the week to take care of “teacher” business. Things like professional development forms, health insurance, evaluations, survey’s and all of the things that the district will ask us to do. I choose 1 day out of the week that I will stay a bit longer to get these types of things accomplished.
Another idea is to stay late one day a week to keep on top of these types of duties.
Maybe that’s the day you’ll eat take-out?
3- Create Something New (My favorite tip to be stress free.)
I love to compose songs and I get frustrated when I don’t have the time to just sit down and write. I have found that I have to “make” time for this in my life. I’m not very good at doing it every day, but over a week, I do try to write something new.
For me, creating something that comes from the heart renews me in such a different way than just relaxing. Performing used to be my creative outlet, but now I’ve found that just playing the guitar or ukulele or piano and composing a song is enough.
What do you like to create?
4- Plan, Plan, Plan Ahead (My toughest tip to be stress free.)
I am a big believer in blocking out music programs the year before. I like to get with my administrator and block out when I’ll be holding each music concert. It’s a good time to give my “boss” the big picture of the music program and what’s going to be happening during the school year. It also gives everyone plenty of time to work through any calendar conflicts, and to schedule other events and field trips.
I also plan my whole year of lessons out with concepts/standards and lesson plans for each grade level. Sometimes I do change things as I go, but in general, I stick to my plan. There’s a great comfort in having the plan in place. That way on Friday I’m not wondering (freaking out) what I’m going to do or how I’m going to be ready for Monday.
Try getting all your manipulatives, power points, videos and printables ready about two to three weeks in advance.
Try planning a whole quarter of lessons for each grade by date. This will help you have a big picture in your teacher life.
Calendar, calendar, calendar!
I realize that planning is NOT everyone’s tip to be stress free. But if you’re looking for some help with this, here’s a Music Teacher Planner I created with daily, weekly, monthly planners, calendar pages, concert tips and planning ideas, notebook dividers, substitute lesson planner, curriculum planner, note cards and more.
5-Keep Snacks Around (My essential tip to be stress free.)
I think that this is my least favorite task. I hate lugging stuff in and out of my classroom and back and forth every day. Last year I bought a small rolling suitcase to bring my laptop and “stuff” in because I didn’t want to carry things. The rolling suitcase rocked! It was so easy and took all the pressure off my shoulders. It’s been great!
Here’s some ideas to be stress free:
Bring a water bottle or a gallon jug.
Get a refrigerator in your room.
Have some change stashed for emergency soda and snacks- and even LUNCH!
Put your favorite snacks in a drawer.
Use an infuser or scents in your room.
Sometimes I feel like it’s a curse-but I really am a forever learner. Not only do I love to learn to play new instruments like guitar, piano, ukulele, recorder, and I’m working on the Violin. I hope to learn the harp too. With all the new technology, there’s plenty of things to learn.
I’m moving towards a digital classroom and embarking on creating resources that are easy to use in google classrooms. That means I’m learning video, photography, graphics and tech skills.
Last year I wanted to start a ukulele program. I didn’t know how to play. But I find that the students enjoy learning along with you. The students love to learn along with your and it is another way to connect with them. We are all learning together.
What a great way to make teaching stress free!
7-Connect with Peers (My most time consuming tip to be stress free.)
Being proactive in communicating with classroom teachers, and administrators can cut down on stress because you’ve kept everyone in the loop and given them opportunities to work with you. I routinely meet up with different grade levels and connect with them about certain students or what’s going on in their grade.
When I’m preparing for a program, I’ll type up all of the information they will need to communicate to parents and we’ll sit down and go through the dates, times and general ideas before we put the plan into action. This way, I have their support when I need it!
Fridays are a good day to send out emails for reminders of events for the upcoming week. That way the teachers have the emails first thing Monday morning.
8- Keep On Top of the Piles (My most challenging tip to be stress free.)
I must admit, I can be the “crazy creative” person with stacks of files and papers on the piano, desk and file cabinet so one thing I do to help with paper is the take care of it as soon as I can and toss it out. If I get a memo in my box, I take care of it before I leave for the day. If I need to grade papers-I take care of it that day.
It’s typical for me to have papers piling up around me during the week. So, I’ve found that it’s really important for me to try to tidy up at the end of each day.
I’ve found that if I start to pile papers up around me, I never have time to go back and sort through them.
And, if it’s something that’s going to take a long time and I can’t get to it that day, I put it in my calendar, so that it’s on my “to-do” list. For me that’s the only way I seem to be able to survive in “paper land”.
When Monday morning comes around I like to walk into a clean room. The one and the only way to do that is to leave it clean on Friday. So on Fridays I’ll take an extra few minutes and tidy up the room.
I also have a catch phrase that I try to use all the time: “TOUCH IT ONCE”.
That means that if students aren’t using xylophones, then they put them away. Whatever “props” the kids use during their class, I get them to clean up so that there’s no residual messes to clean up at the end of the day. Remember, the students love to help and I enlist their help. I also feel like it helps them learn to be responsible.
I’ll admit, I do give out treats when someone’s gone the extra mile.
In the long run, it makes a big difference to tidy up at the end of every week-dusting, wiping boards, putting away miscellaneous loose items.
And, it helps me keep stress free.
9- Friday Clean Up (My “sometimes I forget” tip to be stress free.)
I like to give the white board a good scrub, dust, reorganize and tidy up my desk before I leave on Fridays.
Honestly, it doesn’t take long, and I LOVE coming in to a clean and tidy classroom on Mondays. I found that wiping everything down and then leaving the room for the weekend feels really good to me.
Setting up the instruments, worksheets and manipulatives I might need for the next week and having everything ready is really important to me. If I walk in a bit late or have an extra duty, then I’m all set for Monday lessons.
Usually my I CAN statements are good for a whole unit and I’m not changing them every week. I’ve also updated my posters from this picture-but I used to just write them on the board. That way my administrator can immediately see what the goals are for each grade.
10- Be Thankful (My “brings the most peace” tip to be stress free.)
By the end of the week everyone’s ready for the weekend. Sometimes I’ll leave a little treat out on Fridays for my custodians.
I used to bake a lot-now I’ll just grab something from the store and leave it for them in their work room with a “Thank You”.
After all, we’re all in this together and I feel like it’s important to validate their hard work and help-and they sure appreciate the treats!
I also leave a bowl of treats for them during the summer. This has turned into a tradition.
Do you know that having a healthy sense of humor is one of the top ways to beat stress? I’ve never been ashamed of being a bit goofy with the kids. I feel like many “stressful” situations have been busted up because I crack a joke or just smile big and laugh. Humor can diffuse many stressful situations.
Over time, I’ve found that making a joke is so much easier than being offended or, stressing out about stuff. When’s the last time you laughed until you cried? I’ve infused humor into my music class by using jokes as speaking parts in programs.
I love watching old comedy movies. Danny Kaye, Dean Martin, Cary Grant, Catherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Gene Wilder, Lucille Ball, Donald O’Connor, and that’s just some of the old classics. What are your favorite comedies?
12- Take Time to Re-Center
I’ve been spending more time doing Yoga and meditation every day. I get up early and do it first thing in the morning. It’s a daily ritual that for me keeps me centered during the day. I’ve found that the longer I teach, the more important it is to “re-fill” my cup every day. I used to listen to music or read, but yoga for me is Physical and Mental together and I really connect to that kind of activity.
Yoga? Yep and I’m using it in my classroom too! Check out this blog post: “Why Not Teach Students to be Calm?”
The outdoors rejuvenates me and helps me feel at peace with the world. My husband took some fun shots as I practice yoga moves at the top of this mountain in Colorado. I feel so stress free!
Here’s the Short List:
- Keep Smiling
- Complete Communications by the End of the Day
- Create Something New
- Plan, Plan, Plan Ahead
- Keep Snacks Around
- Connect with Peers
- Keep On Top of the Piles
- Friday Cleanup
- Be Thankful
- Take Time to Re-Center
I sincerely hope you’ve got some ideas on how you’re going to beat teacher stress this year. And, I hope you’ll share them. We’re all in this together-
I hope you’ll Share these ideas with your teacher friends.