Melissa Rathbone's picture

Ten Back to School Teacher Tips to Help Keep Stress Down



Many of us are currently looking at the calendar wishing it would just slow down. Summer flies by and soon we will all be back in our classrooms ambushed with lesson plans, grading papers, and tracking students' progressHere are 10 tips that I believe help keep the stress down throughout the school year: 

  1. Pre-Plan 

Most outside of the education field envision a teacher’s summer as relaxing poolsidesipping a cold beverageand smiling gleefully at everyone else slaving away at their 9-to-5 jobs. However, we all know this is less than true. While we do take time to relax and refresh, summer is a great time for us to pre-plan for the upcoming year. Those lessons that did not quite work last year can be tweaked; new books can be found at thrift stores; and let us not forget countless hours of personal and professional development. It all comes down to not overdoing it, but rather finding those natural times where you can fit it in and not feel like you are still working.  


  1. Schedules 

Once that school bell rings, life gets crazy. I use a calendar to schedule my day in my Outlook calendar. By doing this, reminders will pop up to keep me on task. One caution  allow yourself to be flexible. We all know that in this type of environment things do not always go as planned and we need to be willing to change things around at the last minute.  


  1. To Do Lists 

This is one of my main secrets to keeping my sanity during the school year. Every evening before I close the “door” to my office, I start writing down what I need to do the next day. I prefer to use paper and pencil for my to-do list, but for those that love technology, Outlook has a built-in Task List feature. Remember that not everything you put on your to-do list will get done in a day, so try to keep it as short as you can. What is leftover starts my next day’s list. In the end, my productivity goes up and I become laser-focused on what I need to accomplish throughout the day.  


  1. Quitting Time 

Anyone who is in the education field, especially teachers, knows how easy it is to just keep working. This is especially true in the virtual world because we live where we work. It is so easy to forget that there is a life outside of our “office. On my schedule, I mark out two days a week that I allow myself to work past my normal school hours. If you are sitting in your office thinking about working longer, ask yourself if this task MUST be done before the next day, or if you just WANT it to be done before the next day. You will save yourself a lot of stress if you finish your MUST list and close that office door for the day.  


  1. Just Say No! 

Throughout the day, we are bombarded with requests from all sides. Sometimes there is no way to say no because it has to be done. There are times, however, when you can and should say noOverextending yourself does not help anyone, especially you. 


  1. Get Your Heart Pumping 

I am not a fitness junkie, but I have found that over the years, when I work out, I feel so much better and ready to take on the world. Studies have shown that working out for 20-30 minutes boosts your endorphins and allows you to react to stress differently. I know for many of us, a quick exercise is welcomed after an hour-long class connect.