There are many potential causes of teacher stress.
Test scores, performance reviews, and administrative observations.
Meetings, trainings, and other demands on your time.
Parents and grading, planning and rainy days, and students far below grade level.
All while juggling life outside of school.
But there is one cause of teacher stress that surpasses them all.
It’s something that is particularly frustrating, bringing more sleepless nights than all the others put together.
It’s mentally and physically taxing. It’s burdensome and time-consuming. It’s relentless and seemingly never-ending.
It’s also completely avoidable.
So what is it?
The worst cause of teacher stress is trying to convince students to behave. It’s a reliance on your words to get them under control.
It’s the belief that you are the problem, that their bad decisions are because of your inability to push the right buttons. In other words, it’s taking responsibility for their misbehavior.
This approach to managing students manifests itself in the form of lectures, talking-tos, pep-talks, and threats. Intimidation and false praise are also telltale signs.
Not only are these methods remarkably stressful, but they cause misbehavior to worsen over time. Yet, scores of teachers drag themselves out of bed each morning to fight this losing battle for another day.
I couldn’t do it.
If relying on my wits and words were my primary way of curbing misbehavior, I’d find another profession. To smile through such burden day after day is agony.
The good news is that there is no reason to endure even a single day of teaching this way. There is a solution that is easy and reliable and will forever remove the albatross of having to plead, coax, and cajole students into behaving.
It also improves maturity, eliminates bad attitudes, and sparks motivation better than a thousand pep-talks.
It entails taking all of that responsibility you’re carrying on your shoulders and shifting it over to your students—where it belongs.
In far too many classrooms the teacher is fraught with stress and anxiety while the students gad about without a care in the world. In the most effective classrooms, however, there is a clear delineation of responsibilities.
The teacher’s responsibility is to teach great lessons, protect the rights of every student to learn and enjoy school, and create an environment they all look forward to. The student’s responsibility is to listen, learn, and behave according to the rules of the class.
Once balance is restored, peace and contentment ensue.
To make this shift, all you have to do is stop. Stop trying to convince your students to behave. Stop looking for the right thing to say or the perfect button to push.
Stop arguing and finagling. Stop dealmaking, flattering, and battling. Stop trying to persuade, manipulate, or outwit students into good behavior.
Stop wringing your hands over their choices.
Instead, follow the laws of the real world and let them experience the full weight of your consequences, all on their own and without cushioning their fall.
Let them learn the hard lessons and experience the internal reflections that lead to true change in behavior.
Rely exclusively on your classroom management plan, allowing it do the heavy lifting for you.
Use your personality, influence, and creativity for good. Use it to draw students into learning and exploration. Use it for building relationships and improving mutual trust and likability.
Do your job, and do it well, and expect your students to do theirs.
Once you make this shift, once you stop taking on—even in part—what are your students’ responsibilities, your teaching life will change.
A grand piano will slide off your shoulders.
Your smile will be real.
And your students will thrive.
PS – For one week only, The Classroom Management Secret is available at Amazon Kindle for only $4.99. The promotion ends at midnight (MT) on October 30th.
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