Managing teacher stress in the early childhood environment

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on October 1, 2011

in Bam Radio Series on Early Childhood Education, Managing Teacher Stress

Having worked in early childhood education for over 25 years, I understand and personally know that teaching can be both rewarding and stressful.  Teacher stress was the topic of today’s Bam Radio Show broadcast which I invite you to take a listen. I will give a short recap of some of the points I found to be most helpful but these experts really understand that stress is real and that it needs to be managed wisely so we, as teachers, can keep our joy…

Handling Teacher Stress: Increase The Positive, Decrease The Negative
Rae Pica with  Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, Jeff Johnson, Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed.

Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, Jeff Johnson, and Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed.

You can listen to this broadcast by clicking here or here!

What contributes to teacher stress?

There are so many things that can contribute to teacher stress. The experts in the Bam Radio Show suggest a few and I have added a few of my own as well.  Stress can be caused by…

  • A lack of money or resources to do the things you want or need in your classroom. Often times, we see great ideas that we would love to try or new equipment we would love to have but don’t have the resources to make things happen.
  • Working with lots of other people.  Spending every day working with other people, both big and little, can naturally wear a person out.
  • Not having time for breaks throughout the day. There are some childcare environments where the teachers are not given time away from their classroom throughout the day. A home teaching environment would also be an example of working all day without a real break.
  • Constant changes in rules and regulations imposed by others. Whether they are imposed by licensing agencies or administrators, change can add to a teacher’s level of stress.
  • A lack of personal interest, education, or continuous professional development can also lead to added stress.  We all need to feel invested in what we do in order to find joy and we all need to feel like we are growing in the process.
  • A lack of moral support and recognition for a job well done. We all need a pat on the back every once in awhile.
  • The inability to say ‘no.”  As teachers, we want to invest in others so we tend to get ourselves over-committed and we just hate to tell someone “no.”

What can you do to help alleviate teacher stress?

Not all stress is bad. Stress can push us to do our very best and challenge us to grow and learn.  However, not all stress is good either. The experts on the Bam Radio Show offer up a few tips for helping teachers manage stress wisely…

  • Start off your day by taking a few minutes for yourself. Take that time to relax, breath, or to just sit still.  A few minutes of quiet time each morning can help you start your day a little more relaxed.
  • Learn to say “no” to occasions that will take up your free time. As a teacher, there are always opportunities to share your talents but you need to be smart about it. Protect your free time and use it to take care of yourself.
  • Look for opportunities to grow in your profession and/or education. Learning new things such as new teaching techniques, child development, or finding new ideas to do in music/art/math/science can be inspiring and exciting. Learning new ideas can make you want to get up everyday and rush to the classroom to try them out. Fill up your tank by taking advantages of opportunities to learn.  You can attend conferences, read professional journals, take classes in early childhood education, or even read blogs like this one!
  • Invest time in the classroom doing more of something you love. If you are passionate about the arts or exercise or technology then look for opportunities to share your talents and passion with your students.
  • Find others who share your love for teaching. Build yourself a network of support so you can brainstorm ideas, cheer each other on, and help each other find solutions.
I am sure there are other ideas you have for successfully managing stress in your day.  Feel free to share them here with us!…..

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Promoting excellence in early childhood education at home and in the preschool classroom!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Gail Poulin October 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

I enjoyed listening to the radio show. We really have a challenging job. You brought up something that is critically important – the good relationships with peers. These are the buoys floating in the water. You reach for them for check-ins and to reconnect through-out the day and year. When a child or parent is causing you stress, you talk with your peers for support, feedback, and ideas. They can help you see the picture more clearly and move ahead in your processing and thinking.
Good show. Thanks for sharing the link.

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

I agree – if we don’t have good relationships with our peers and colleagues, stress can get to an all time high. We need each other for support and motivation. Thanks for listening to the show today Gail:)

3 Carol D October 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

Your blog is one of several I follow and it is serving as my professionl development after nearly 20 years out of the classroom! While I would very much like to go back to school and get “caught up” on current EC educational philosophy, practices, etc etc, it simply isn’t possible at this time. I am so thankful you are taking the time to share your experiences with us, Deb!

4 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

I get inspired everyday by reading other blogs as well Carol. When I am inspired, I can’t wait to go to school and try something and all of the sudden I feel more driven than I do stressed!

5 Sam October 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I know exactly what you mean. My mom is a teacher too. And the way she explains us, that’s exactly how you did it. But she says stress is a part. After all, most of them remember you for always.

6 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Yes they do!

7 pammypam October 2, 2011 at 7:59 am

This blog is my GO TO resource when I’m looking for new ideas or to relax. I am always able to find at least ONE thing that i can incorporate or adapt for my classroom of 17 two year olds.

BTW did i mention that i have 17 two year olds? Did I mention that 2/3 of them are in varying stages of potty training? Stressful? you betcha!

Rewarding? You betcha!

8 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 2, 2011 at 9:46 am

Haha – I love your attitude and perspective! 17 Two year olds? Wow!!

9 Karen Thompson February 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I came across your blog in an assignment I had for my masters class and I am loving it. I never really blogged and I realize that I have been missing out on so much. I especially liked this post because so many of us including parents are so stressed. This gets projected on our children and students and we in turn stress them out. I look forward to blogging in the future.

10 anjanae February 8, 2012 at 9:55 pm

The information presented here was very informative. I believe it is very imortant to have a network of others who are passionate about teaching. Although I do not have this type of network at my own job as a multi-age educator, I enjoy sharing ideas and learning from my daughters PREVIOUS preschool teacher. It is odd how inspiration can come from the most unusual places! Anyway, she shares ideas with me (her class is currently doing a study on shoes!) and helps me grow professionally! I enjoy the conversations we share and to date, she still remains one of my daughters favorite teachers! It is obvious that she has a passion for what she do!

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