10 Reasons To Smile, Breathe Easy, And Not Let Stress Get The Best Of You

Much of the stress teachers feel today comes from sources outside of the classroom.

New curriculum, policies, and programs, tweaks and changes to this and that, and the near-constant call for flexibility—all zooming at you at an alarming rate—can feel like an ever-present dark cloud hanging over your head.

Here at Smart Classroom Management we believe that the best approach to anything beyond your immediate control is laid-back acceptance. We believe in listening and learning without judgment and leaving school at school.

We believe in shaking your arms out, howling at the morning moon, and having a lot more fun with your class.

Here’s why:

1. Building rapport will become effortless.

Having a calm, confident demeanor comes naturally when you’re not feeling stressed. Humor and patience, too, come easy. And because students are drawn to such a leadership style, building rapport is something you don’t consciously have to work at.

2. Excitability will plummet.

Excitability among students is a major cause of misbehavior, but not among teachers who carry themselves with an all-is-well vibe. Your calmness alone will engender confidence in you and cause your students to settle down and focus on learning.

3. Your students will be happier.

To the extent your students enjoy being in your classroom is largely determined by your personality and temperament. When you’re able to shrug off outside pressures to smile and revel in the moment with your students, they’ll respond in kind.

4. Behavior will improve.

When students walk into a classroom that makes sense to them—one with a peaceful aura and clear boundaries of behavior and protection—they can’t help but be affected. They can’t help but feel they’re right where they belong. They can’t help but be inspired to give the best of themselves.

5. Learning will increase.

Stress inhibits concentration, participation, and performance. A classroom free of tension, on the other hand, is the perfect incubator for learning—with students naturally becoming more creative, more focused, and more comfortable sharing with their classmates.

6. Your words will have power.

When you’re internally calm, it will show most notably in the way you communicate with your students. A soft, unhurried tone, with pauses and open, accessible facial expressions and body language, will make your words more interesting and persuasive to your students.

7. You’ll experience far less day-to-day stress.

An honest reassessment of what is truly worthy of your mental energy will remove much of your work-related stress. You’ll find that most news and gossip is just that, offering no real reason to get uptight or spend a single minute of your day worrying about it.

8. You’ll be happier.

The simple elimination of needless stress will completely upend your workaday outlook. It will lighten your step, slacken your shoulders, and paint the sky a watercolor blue. It will make you more effective, more charismatic, and a lot more fun to be around.

9. You’ll respond calmly to misbehavior.

Free from the mental burden of what may or may not come to pass, you’ll find yourself with deeper reserves of composure and patience and an almost otherworldly ability to respond to misbehavior without anger or frustration.

10. You’ll be present for friends and family.

One of the consequences of stewing over anything you have little control over is that it will cause you to bring stress home with you. Focusing solely on your sphere of influence and responsibility (i.e. your classroom), on the other hand, will allow you to leave school at school.

Safeguarding Your Peace

Teacher stress seems to be getting worse every day, and it’s no wonder. Change keeps a-coming, faster and more furious than ever before.

But it doesn’t have to affect you emotionally; not without your permission anyway.

Being in the classroom is challenging enough without allowing events and decisions beyond your control to affect your peace and ability to manage and inspire your students. Let all the outside stuff inform you intellectually, but never emotionally.

Accept what you can’t change. Learn what you need to learn. And save your passion, your enthusiasm, and your energy for the classroom.

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10 Responses to 10 Reasons To Smile, Breathe Easy, And Not Let Stress Get The Best Of You

  1. Chuck April 29, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    I am having some problems. I have been consistent with my classroom management plan. I have held students accountable calmly, enjoy good rapport with my students, I keep the classroom a safe place for all, and am well-liked by most students. However I am still struggling a bit with classroom management because even though I’m consistent, they don’t seem to take my consequences seriously because I am always good natured. As such I think I am failing at showing effective disappointment when my rules are broken allowing the misbehavior to slide off of my back instead. I am afraid of showing disappointment because I don’t know the best ways to do it without causing students to dislike me or causing major problems down the line.

    You mentioned that students should feel disappointment from you as a result of their consequence but I noticed that you don’t really have a clear article on it. I try to give my consequences passively but in an attempt to keep calm I may give them a consequence with an empathetic tone, such as “I’m sorry, but you have this consequence” or even with a slightly jovial tone. I understand these may not always be the right way to give a consequence that changes behavior, but what would be a better way?

    I’ve been following a CM plan similar to yours and I remember you mentioning that you should only be giving a few letters every year. I’ve probably given more than 50 and behavior for the most part isn’t improving overall, though it has fire a few individuals. Can you help me with this issue?

    • Michael Linsin April 30, 2014 at 6:28 am #

      Hi Chuck,

      It’s difficult to get down to gritty details about your situation specifically without having a chance to observe you. It would only be a best guess. I don’t want to steer you wrong or give unreliable information. I’ll give you a couple thoughts, though. First, you definitely don’t have to show a sympathetic tone or be passive when giving consequences–nor should you. Breaking rules is serious. Second, passivity in general, particularly when teaching older grade levels, can result in students writing you off and not taking you seriously. It sounds like there is a lack of respect in your classroom. Perhaps this is the reason.


  2. Michael April 30, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    Thanks Michael,

    I do teacher older grades (8th grade). What kind of mindset should I attempt to have when I have a student break a rule. I’ve got down that I shouldn’t be the one to shoulder the burden of it and that it is the students’ responsibility to take the consequence, but how specifically should I feel so that they know I’m serious without looking like I am angry or without lecturing?

    Also how might I increase the respect in my room if I am already being consistent in my enforcing of the rules? Kids like me and we have great rapport, but I feel that it might be a little detrimental to them respecting me. I’ve gotten them to respect each other because of my enforcing of the rules, and they know in general to respect me, but if there is disrespect towards me, I feel like one of the main ways I deal with it is to ignore it or take it as the student kidding around, because I feel like if I react to it, there is the danger of me becoming angry, and most of the time they are just kidding. I only really react when it is outright disrespect, and their motives and intent are clear.

    • Michael Linsin April 30, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      Hi Chuck,

      Your mindset is that although breaking rules is serious because it’s a hindrance to learning, it doesn’t affect you personally one iota. As for your second question, there is something amiss, for sure. If you have great rapport and they don’t respect you, then they must see weakness in your leadership. (All the letters home point to this conclusion as well.) Have you read Dream Class? The first chapter spells this out better than I can do here.

      It’s the extremes of enjoying your class combined with immoveable boundaries that result in respect for you and a reverence for the classroom. It appears you’re wishy-washy toward disrespect for fear that you’ll somehow ruin the teacher-student relationship. But the truth is it will put it back into balance. You need to redefine for your students what respect is and what it looks like (as well as disrespect) and then hold them accountable for it every time.

      No more ignoring.


  3. Nicole April 30, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    I had a very hard time my first year leaving work at work. I would take work home to complete. I would take out my frustrations from work on my fiance. I have since promised myself to do what I can. I have learned to separate work from home. I have noticed having a more relaxed approach has helped with my relationships in and out of work. I now leave school at school.

    • Michael Linsin May 1, 2014 at 6:24 am #

      Excellent Nicole! You’ll be a better teacher for it.


  4. Barb May 1, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Great post!
    I couldn’t agree more. If you’re not naturally inclined that way it’s a bit of a learning curve, but so worth it. I’ve worked at being calmer and more laid back in the classroom and the payback is amazing:)
    Thanks for all your very helpful posts!

    • Michael Linsin May 1, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

      You’re welcome, Barb!


  5. Dianna August 7, 2014 at 2:52 am #

    I have a student in class that contradicts every word out of my mouth. She takes over my class and is extremely disruptive. I have tried being nice and calmly talking with her but it is getting worse and worse. It is to the point where I have lost all of my confidence and am actually afraid to teach a class even though I know the subject like that back of my hand . I recently lost my cool with her and signed a disciplinary action form that will go in her records … I used to love coming to work but now I dread it. I have never met anyone quite like her. When she isn’t in class everyone does exactly what needs to be done and things go smoothly. When she comes to class she can convince the students that the sky is green! I don’t understand how she has this control over my class. Any advice would be amazing! Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin August 7, 2014 at 7:20 am #

      Hi Diana,

      Please read through the Difficult Students category of our archive. I’m certain you’ll find what you’re looking for. If not, email me. I’m happy to help!


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