Monday, December 6, 2010

Tips & Tricks: Dealing with Frustration

Teachers need hobbies. It's really easy to let teaching become your life. In many ways, teaching is your life. However, you need a way to check it at the door. If you can't check your frustration, anger, disappointment and other negative feelings when you leave your room, you'll burn out very quickly. Crazy days can make it especially difficult to do simple things like make dinner for your family or even fall asleep. You need an outlet. You need some way to let go.

Teaching is one of those professions that's easy to take home. It's easy to wallow in self pity when your kids act up. There are things to take home, obviously, like caring about troubled students or even work to grade. The problem is that you need to get rid of the negative emotions so that you don't let them snowball out of control. If you do, you can end up creating a cycle where you expect bad behavior and your students meet your expectation. At worst, you might end up blowing up at a child. No one wins.

I exercise. I didn't use to and I certainly don't like it, but it feels good to let go of those negative emotions in a run. It helps wipe your mind and refocus your emotions. As the weather gets colder, I'm turning to yoga and other indoor activities to use as a work out. I carry most of my frustration in my shoulders and neck. I can feel a physical difference after working out simply because I'm letting go of those bad emotions.

Since beginning to work out, I've found it's easier to start back at square one with my students. It's easy to let your negative feelings carry over from one day to the next and take it out on students. It's also easy to come home and take out those negative emotions on your family. When you can refocus and clean your mind, you're happier, which makes for happier students and a happier family.

There are times when a work out won't completely take care of a bad day. If you're still having trouble making your brain just quit, I find it's best to keep a book you've read by your bed. When you're rereading a book, your brain can zone out and you can start to try to relax a bit.

Remember, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else, which includes your students. This is one of those times when teaching and motherhood are very similar. It's easy to forget that students sometimes act out because they literally do not know what they are doing. And sometimes you find out too late that one of your students was frustrating you so much because they're dealing with their own frustration that they bring into the classroom.

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