The Worst Cause Of Teacher Stress

Smart Classroom Management: The Worst Cause Of Teacher StressThere 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.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving new-article updates in your email box every week.


19 Responses to The Worst Cause Of Teacher Stress

  1. Mrs. Anna Nichols October 24, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    Thank you, Michael, for another wonderful article! I am linking this one immediately to my website!

    • Michael Linsin October 24, 2015 at 11:25 am #

      You’re welcome, Anna! I’m glad you like it.


  2. Jessica October 24, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    Your sale ended on October 22nd but I just received this email October 23rd.

    • Michael Linsin October 24, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      Hi Jessica,

      The promotion runs through the 30th. The date has been corrected. Thanks for pointing out the error.


  3. Jennifer October 24, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    I would LOVE to let my students just suffer the consequences of their misbehavior. Sadly, I’m not the one holding myself responsible for my students’ poor choices – it’s THEIR PARENTS who hold me responsible. Just by upholding my end of the bargain (you do your work, I’ll put the results in the gradebook, you don’t, you get a zero) I’ve been dragged into parent meeting after parent meeting, had a parent get so mad when my principal backed me up that as I was leaving the room, she was SCREECHING that she was going to the Superintendent. Mind you, these are 8th graders – they’ve been to school, before. Also, I don’t “dock” points for late work – I just ask that it get turned in. If it’s a day late or a week late, the zero gets replaced with what they’ve earned. I also offer tutoring, and I’ll allow a quiz grade to replace a homework grade – but of course, if they haven’t paid attention in class or done any studying or homework, that doesn’t help much. Point being, I’ve never lost sleep over my students’ poor choices, I’ve lost sleep over their parents poor handling of their kids’ choices, because those meetings chew up my planning period and get my blood pressure up.

  4. Jeanne October 24, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Excellent article and so true! I’ve been using a Classroom Management Plan for a few years now and this is my best year yet. The best thing is that I’m ENJOYING my students & classes (imagine that!)
    Thank you, Michael

    • Michael Linsin October 24, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

      You’re welcome, Jeanne. Great to hear!


  5. Linda October 24, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    I have been receiving your articles for over a year now. What modifications do you suggest for 4 year olds in public school preschool? There are 22 students in each class with one teacher, with an aide for 2 hours each day. Thanks.

    • Michael Linsin October 24, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

      Hi Linda,

      I’m hoping to have an ebook or guide for preschool and kindergarten teachers in the future. The topic is too big to cover in the time and space we have here. Stay tuned. 🙂


  6. Marina Perez October 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    Thanks again, Michael, for this wonderful article.

    • Michael Linsin October 24, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

      You’re welcome, Marina. I’m so glad you like it.


  7. Sunil kumar October 24, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    Thanks sir for this type of article that boost my teaching styles skills and behavioral aspects related with students…keep it up.

    • Michael Linsin October 25, 2015 at 7:41 am #

      You’re welcome, Sunil.


  8. Jessica October 31, 2015 at 5:44 am #


    I’ve followed the classroom management plan you lay out here for over a year with great success. My question is what I should do about the students who don’t pay attention. I teach 4th grade math and often find myself telling certain students again and again to focus.
    Is this something I should give consequences for?
    The problem is that when we move to practicing the skill we’ve just discussed, those students have no idea what to do. I feel like calling their attention back again and again has no permanent effect, but I’m also not sure if it’s something I should be giving consequences for.

    Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin October 31, 2015 at 7:09 am #

      Hi Jessica,

      No, you should not enforce a consequence. However, there are many things you can do, which we’ll be sure and cover in future books and articles.


  9. Lindsay October 31, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Hi Michael,
    I love your website and have found a lot of effective strategies on here. However, this year has been very difficult and stressful for me. I have seven children in my class who are considered “behavior issues” (most of these students have ieps). These students often break three of the class rules within ten minutes of being at school. If given a consequence, they have attacked me, other students, other teachers, or destroyed materials. I continue to follow through with consequences but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Parents just say “they’re better than the used to be.” I have read your article about these students benefitting from seeing the rest of the class following directions and the rules but although my other students do a good job modeling this, there are also many students breaking the rules at once. I am pretty sure I have read every article in your archives and I haven’t found any that address this.

    • Michael Linsin October 31, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

      Hi Lindsay,

      Remember, your classroom management plan is only a small part of effective classroom management. It’s all the other stuff that make your plan work. Unless I’m able to observe you and your students in action, then I wouldn’t be able to accurately put my finger on what it is you’re missing. I surely wish I could.


  10. sarah November 20, 2015 at 11:35 am #

    i have problem the class involved more than 44 child & i need ur help how can h manage the hale number of children
    thanks much