Uniting Against the Stress

“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort… Go after what creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”

-Kelly McGonical, TED Talk “How to Make Stress your Friend”    

Teaching can be an incredibly stressful profession these days.  I have talked with a number of talented, dedicated educators recently who feel overwhelmed because of the testing, paperwork, and changing expectations in and out of the classroom.  With all elements combined, the unintentional message from the world can overwhelmingly sound like, “You are not good enough” to many teachers.

This is unfortunate.  Teaching is a profession of passion.  Every teacher with whom I have the privilege of working is in the classroom because they care about young people and want to make an impact.  They work hard; they make sacrifices; they show compassion.  Even in the best of times, teaching is a difficult job.  The grading, interpersonal challenges, and long days all make it so.  In the article “Why They Leave” on the NEA website, it states that on any given year, “one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years.”  The ones who stick around do so because they have the resilience, talent, and heart (excuse the cliche) to keep going for the sake of the young people they serve.

The good news for teachers is that according to health psychologist Kelly McGonical, we (humans) can change our stress responses and avoid the negative health benefits simply by changing the way we feel about stress.  The even better news is that anxiety can bind us together and make us all stronger.  In times of tension, we need one another to confide in; this releases positive chemicals.  Furthermore,  “caring creates resilience” to the emotions we experience when under pressure, and I don’t know anyone who cares more than teachers.

This TED Talk shown to me by Rachel Lang (the coaches’ coach) outlines these ideas about stress and others.  It is fifteen minutes, and according to McGonical, watching it could save your life.

I hope you enjoy it on this Friday before you take the weekend to catch your breath, regroup, and remember all of the good things you do for your students every day; you are appreciated.

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