February 20, 2012

The Stress Monster

How do you deal with stress at school???

Recently, I've found myself feeling a little stuck in the February doldrums. I love my work, but lately it feels like the anxiety levels of my students, their parents and my fellow teachers are reaching an all time high. I'm chalking it up to the stresses that teachers and students feel over the upcoming high stakes standardized tests and upcoming IEP meetings for my students transitioning to middle school. Regardless of the reason, the stress monster is making life much harder for all of us!

As the stress level rises, my students with Autism Spectrum Disorder start escalating behaviors which, in turn, increases the stress in parents and teachers. We find ourselves in a self-perpetuating cycle. 

So, I've been focusing on checking my own emotional level and how that is communicated to the people around me. I've found that by making a deliberate effort to project calm, positive energy, it not only helps me, but I can see a difference in the students as well.

Last year, I read a fascinating book by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor entitled My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey.

She talked about how she was able to pick up on the energy levels of those around her after having a stroke. Her message was so powerful that I decided to put it into practice. I created a visual reminder for myself that hangs on the wall next to my classroom door.

I'm working hard to reflect on this commitment daily and make sure that I am projecting energy that is calm and positive. When I start to stress out, my darling friend Orlanda always taps the sign and reminds me!

So, what do you do to deal with workplace stress?

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