6 Things About Stress Every Teacher Should Know | The Highly Effective Teacher

6 Things About Stress Every Teacher Should Know

Marie Amaro

6 Things About Stress Every Teacher Should Know

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Stress is a part of life, right?

We all have to learn to deal with it.

Teachers, however,  report high levels of stress and the attrition rate of new teachers is between 30-40% in the first five years.

While your employer has some responsibility for the health and safety, it is up to you to be accountable for your own wellbeing.

Here Are 6 Ways You Can Take Responsibility For Your Own Health And Wellbeing

1. Reflect.

Take stock of what is causing you stress in your teaching life.

Teachers often have to work within systems that don’t necessarily align with what they know is best practice. Ask yourself, which stressors are within your control and which ones are not.

Some of the things on which we expend a lot of time and energy, are out of our control eg departmental requirements, NAPLAN, parental and societal expectations.

While you may need to get things off your chest, it is more productive to spend time problem solving the issues where you do have control eg planning, time management, your energy level and your wellbeing.

Stressors at school

2. Prioritise

Teachers (and schools) may view everything they do as equally important, but there are some tasks that take precedence and others that can be let go without detriment to student learning.

For example, putting up a display of student work is not as important as a meeting with parents to discuss concerns, or colour coded filing  is not as important as a term planning overview.

It can be difficult to prioritise your workload, but doing so will increase your productivity by ensuring that you are putting your energy in the most important areas.

3. Identify What’s Working

In our Teacher Wellbeing Workshop teachers examine their current practices of dealing with stress and how well those practices support their health and wellness.

Some strategies we use to deal with stress are more effective than others, while some habits can be downright harmful i.e. drinking alcohol every night or consistently not getting enough sleep.

I remember hearing Christine Richmond talking about teacher self-care many years ago, and having an AFD (alcohol free day) once a week was top of the list.

When you are challenged by a student’s difficult behaviour, a parent’s lack of understanding or a principal’s unreasonable demands,ask yourself, “ What is going on for them_”

4. Change Your Thoughts.

When you are challenged by a person or an event such as a student’s difficult behaviour, a parent’s lack of understanding or a principal’s unreasonable demands, consider Brene Brown’s motto:

What is the most generous interpretation I can give this event?

This means that we can give ourselves a break by thinking differently about people and events by asking a different question.


“Why does this always happen to me?”


“I wonder what this means for them?”

5. Seek Help.

Many teachers are loathe to ask for help, not wanting to seem incapable or weak, or put their employment in jeopardy. However, asking for help from colleagues or supervisors can prevent a difficult situation spiralling out of control and can often normalise the situation when others empathise with you.

New teachers need to seek out a mentor for valuable advice and support, if one is not forthcoming. Build relationships with other teachers. Collegial support is essential for teacher wellbeing.

Build relationships

6. Integrate.

Adopt simple wellbeing strategies like gratitude journaling, mindfulness practices, EFT tapping, movement, music and fun into your school day as part of your lessons.

Modelling healthy practices with your students will reinforce you and help them understand the importance of self-care.