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Strategies for Managing Stress in a High-Stakes Teaching Environment

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@vickoly
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Amidst the hustle and bustle of our present world, stress is one of the most unavoidable parts of our daily lives that can overwhelm us if an action isn't taken to curb it before it gets out of hand. Personally, as a teacher in a public school in this part of the world, attending to over a thousand students on a daily basis can be draining, but I've developed some habits that not only help me manage but also reduce stress, and today I'll be sharing those tips with you.

Take, for instance, the fact that the students just concluded their examinations. As a teacher, it's my responsibility to not only mark each of their scripts but also record them in the mark book and do the same on an online application that helps me generate their results automatically; if not, that means I would have done that too manually, like I did with marking and recording.   Now, assuming the school has a moderate population, this won't have been a big deal, but it's an overpopulated school with over a thousand students. I literally get exhausted from teaching alone—less alone, talk of marking and recording the scripts of that many students. To make it more understandable while teaching, each class has at least 80 students in a classroom without a technological enhancer, which means I have to speak at the top of my voice for my messages to go across to all students in such a class.   And in a day, I entered at least four classes to do the same; at the end of the day, I ended up with a cranky voice and exhausted. The same is the case now that school is over, because now I've got a deadline to conclude marking and recording so results can be issued to the students, and this has made me have loads of sleepless nights that have now affected my sleeping pattern, given me headaches, and overall stressed me out.    Luckily, I adopted some measures to curb this, especially when it went above the limit, and I developed high blood pressure after indulging in all of this stress and sleepless nights. Here I share my measures for the habits I indulge in to curb and properly manage this stress, and the first is to be able to know my limit and recognize when I'm going above it.   It's impossible to know you're doing something wrong until you recognize what is wrong and what isn't, so the ability for me to realize I'm stressed is my first measure towards managing it. In a nutshell, if I don't know I'm stressed, then I won't know when to stop and will keep doing the same thing till it breaks me down. Knowing my limit is the first measure put in place.      And immediately I discovered this: my next line of action is to take a break or relax in order to calm my nerves and reinstate my wellbeing. As a teacher, this is somewhat complicated, and each situation where stress meets me will determine how I'll deal with it. For instance, if stress met me while I was in class teaching and my period isn't over, meaning I can't leave the class despite being stressed, what I mostly do is give the students class work, distributing the students into groups to solve a problem, and while that's done, I'll have time to relax and monitor how each group works on their project.

And before such a project is concluded, we will have come to the end of my period, so I'll collect and check, and if they're not done, I give them time to conclude while I go back to my office to relax and, in the process, calm my nerves. The importance of rest and relaxation can never be overemphasized; they play a huge role in helping us live a stress-free life.

If the stress were to be discovered now that I'm recording and indulge in extended work hours that lead to sleepless nights, what I mostly do is stop once I think I'm feeling tired, eye strain, headache, or nauseous. This time around, I stop whatever I'm doing, drink some water, take a shower, and sleep, which can also be related to resting.     On the other hand, sometimes resting doesn't solve the issues at hand, as I find it hard to sleep or get my mind off work. In such a situation, there are two different measures I take to relive the tense atmosphere of stress, and they're either playing video games, which helps me get my mind off work and also serves as a means of entertainment that sparks exciting feelings as I excel in the game.   Or I take a walk; that's stepping out to walk around my vicinity. This is another stress-relieving measure I've come to adopt and love because it's always effective in helping me achieve what it's aimed at achieving. Now, in case you're wondering how this works, it simply also helps me get my mind off work, which is the cause of my stress, and this is achieved because walking presents me with different things that happen around me that entertain me and then helps me get fresh air and a glimpse of nature that refresh my mind.   Those are basically some of the main measures I've put in place to help me reduce stress to a minimal level, and this has been much more helpful and greatly improved my life now than back then when I didn't implement these measures. Further, one measure I haven't put in place but planned to implement is regarding how to reduce fatigue and loss of voice during teaching, and what I plan on doing to curb that from happening is to get a portable public address system that would help me enhance my voice to the entire population of the classroom without raising my voice and thereby draining myself as it's been in the past.    I've not given this a shot yet, but I know it'll be effective, and so I hope to lay my hands on the device pretty soon. As they say, health is wealth. Inasmuch as I'm passionate about teaching, I've got to be mindful of my health so I can do what I love with ease and for a long time, so this device would be a great stress relief mechanism for me in that regard.

***  That's about it for now. I hope you enjoyed the read. I hope you find my measures helpful and may adopt some of them yourself to help you properly manage and reduce stress. Do have a wonderful day and stay blessed. 

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Note: Both photos are mine.

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