Teacher’s Guide to Reducing Your Stress Level

Teacher’s Guide to Reducing Your Stress Level


According to the British Journal of Educational Psychology (1993 Jun;63 ( Pt 2):261-70), “Results revealed that the majority of teachers sampled, 72.6 percent, were experiencing moderate levels of stress, and 23.2 percent serious levels.” What that boils down to is that teaching is a stressful job. It is a rewarding and satisfying job, but nonetheless, stressful. It is important to take care of yourself physically and mentally to be able to deal with the stressors in your life. Not only does stress come from teaching, but juggling your own kids and family as well. Take a look at this guide to reducing your stress level, and see if you can implement even a couple of these ideas to help make you feel more relaxed.

Stress Busters

  • Try getting up at least 15 minutes earlier each morning to have some time to yourself. You can make coffee or stretch before anyone else in the house gets up.
  • Prepare for your next day the prior evening before you go to bed. Waking up in the morning knowing that you are ready helps make things run more smoothly.
  • Instead of trying to remember multiple things in your head, write them down. ” Practice saying “no” to people. No one expects you to be able to do everything, so don’t even try.
  • Keep a journal. Writing out your feelings is a great way to reduce stress. Seeing your problems on paper often times leaves them there.
  • Think of ways to practice preventative measures, such as making duplicate keys to avoid being locked out of your car or house, and fixing things around the house or classroom that have the potential to breakdown on you.
  • Prepare meals on the weekends and freeze them to be used during the week. Simple meals can be just as nutritious as extravagant meals.
  • Know your goals in life and set priorities. Having direction makes situations more worthwhile.
  • When given a large task to complete, break it down into smaller steps. It won’t look so overwhelming if you try this.
  • Reduce clutter in your home and classroom. Get rid of things that you know you will never use again, or at least find a way to neatly store them away, if you cannot come to throw them away.
  • Uplift other people in your life. Say nice things about them. This goes a long way in making you feel distressed, too.
  • Say positive things about yourself. Believe in what you are doing, and remind yourself that you are making an impact on kids who rely on you. You are pretty important, eh?
  • Take a warm bubble bath to ease tension. ” Develop a hobby that makes you feel good. Some people like to read as a hobby, while others prefer to do something with their hands. Find your niche.
  • Give your appearance a new makeover. Getting a new hairstyle or treating yourself to a new outfit is okay!
  • Consider joining a gym or practice meditation. Breathing exercises are also recommended to reduce stress.

As long as you are a teacher you will feel some effects of stress in your life. You have to make a personal decision that you will take measures to reduce your stress. The people around you may not change, so you are the one who has to do the changing. Stress is not only a mental factor, but a physical factor as well. Taking care of your body and mind is paramount. Eating a healthy diet and putting optimistic thoughts into your head is certainly beneficial. It takes practice, but you’re worth it!

Make a Story in a Bag

Make a Story in a Bag

What a great idea. Children would love making the characters and acting out.

A great way to get children to socialize with others and have fun while learning.

For lots of kids the beginning, middle and end don’t always come so easily.  Ask a first grader to tell a story of the day, for instance, and often the result will be hilarious because it’s all mixed up.  As fun as it is to listen teaching kids that stories have an order is important.  Want to give your kid some practice? Make some puppets and put them to work!

What You Need:

  • 3-4 old socks
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Construction paper
  • Yarn (for hair)
  • Book of your child’s choice (from school, home, or the library)
  • Brown paper lunch bag

What You Do:


1. Set it up.  Explain to your child that you are going to read a story and then act it out! Let your child pick whatever book she’d like and start by reading the story together. Stop after every 2-3 pages to talk about what’s happening. At the end of the story, ask your child:

  • Who was the story about?
  • Where did the story take place?
  • What happened in the beginning of the story?
  • What happened in the middle of the story?
  • What happened at the end of the story?

Help your child write down the answers to each of those questions, to use for a puppet show later on, or take dictation if your child struggles with this task.

2. Reuse those socks! Sure, your toe may have wormed a hole in the tip, but old socks make perfect puppets. Just throw them in the wash first! Once they’re clean and dry, tell your child she’s going to make puppets for each of the characters in her story, and then act it out!  Give your child the craft supplies and let her use her imagination. Yarn makes great hair, googly eyes add a fun touch. And old ties or bandanas serve as great “costumes”. If she’d like, she can use construction paper to make background scenes, houses, or any other important settings from the story.

3. Act it out. Gather the family and announce the performance. Let your child take the lead and tell you whether she’d like to play all of the characters, or whether she wants some acting backup from you or a sibling. Once the show is over, place the sock puppets, scenery and written story summary in a brown bag and have your child write the story title on the front.  Be sure to keep your “story-in-a-bag” for future shows! This is a fun way to see if your child really understands and remembers a story, and who knows? It may become a new family tradition!

Top 10 Tips for Incorporating Halloween Themes in Your Classroom

Top 10 Tips for Incorporating Halloween Themes in Your Classroom

Most kids love Halloween and wait for “trick or treat” with great anticipation. What other time of year do you get to dress up like your favorite monster, animal, or superhero and enjoy free candy? While some schools are banning Halloween celebrations, others continue to have the ever-popular costume parades and pumpkin decorating contests. Here are some fun and easy ways that you can incorporate the spirit of Halloween into your classroom activities.

1. Make it a reading day: Read All Day Nightmare by R.L. Stine. This interactive book allows readers to choose the plot of the story. Have students read the book on their own, or in small groups, with the decisions made by popular vote. You can then pass out worksheets on the book, or have students write their own adventure stories.

2. Quote the raven: You can use Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The Raven,” as the center topic for the day. This works best with upper-elementary school students who can understand the language of the piece. You can pass out printable worksheets of the poem, discuss themes, or draw pictures of the room and the raven.

3. Going batty: Science classes will enjoy learning about this unique and often misunderstood mammal. You can build bat houses, look up different types of bats, and discuss bat safety. Younger students may also enjoy making paper bats that you can hang from string from the classroom ceiling.

4. Walk in the cemetery of fiction: Pick a short, spooky story, keeping in the Halloween spirit. After each paragraph, ask students to tell you what happened and what they think will happen next. You can then have students write their own alternate endings to the story.

5. Creative writing with scary creatures: Write on the board, “This Halloween I saw a (insert Halloween character here). This was no ordinary (insert Halloween character here), but was very special becauseÖ” Have students complete the story, telling the audience about their special Halloween character. You can then choose to illustrate the stories and put them together in books to take home.

6. A history of Halloween: Pass out printable worksheets on different cultures and how they celebrate Halloween or a similar holiday. Classes can be divided into small groups to create presentations on the different customs, foods, and significance of Halloween around the world.

7. Ghoul and goblin tag: For physical education classes, or some recess fun, you can play ghouls and goblins. Split the class in half, one half being the ghouls and the others being the goblins. Randomly, the teacher should shout out one or the other. The team that is called then chases the other team, capturing as many as they can and converting them. This continues until everyone is either a ghoul or a goblin.

8. Costume party: Half of the fun of Halloween is dressing up. Encourage kids to wear their costumes to school (making sure that they follow any school guidelines, such as no masks or excessive gore). Award prizes for the scariest, funniest, and most creative costumes.

9. Halloween games: If it will be too difficult for your students to learn on Halloween, consider fun games. You can try traditional favorites like bobbing for apples, or blindfolded guessing games where peeled grapes are “eyeballs” and cold spaghetti are “worms.”

10. Make your own goodies: If you have the facilities, your class will enjoy making their own Halloween goodies. They can decorate their own Halloween cookies or make ghoulish cutout sandwiches for lunch. Alternatively, you can send homes chool worksheets home a week or so before challenging students to bring in their own creepy creations to share with the class.

Halloween is a fun time for most students, and can be turned into a learning experience with a little bit of creativity. Take advantage of this creepy holiday to introduce the class to new concepts and ideas.

Tips for Pre K Classroom

Tips for Pre K Classroom

When Pre K come to your classroom in the fall, it is often their first classroom experience. For this reason, classroom management in a preschool must be well planned in advance. Use these tips to keep your Pre K room running smoothly.

  • When three-year olds enter Pre K,  this is often the first time they are setting foot into a classroom. Setting expectations early-on is essential to a successful school year.

  • Preparing Pre K for the Classroom

    One thing that worked well in my pre k classroom is a check in station for attendance. When my students arrived in the morningclassroom set up they were expected to find their name on the chart and flip over their card. Initially, I wrote their names each in a different color. This helped them recognize their name a little easier. Once the year progressed and they learned to recognize their name, I wrote the names all in the same color for a challenge. Then, the students had to look more closely at the letters and not just the color. You could also use Popsicle sticks with the student’s names written on them.

    Assigning classroom jobs gives the students a sense of ownership with their classroom. Some options for jobs may include:

    • setting up for snack
    • line leader
    • caboose (goes last in line)
    • paper passer
    • pledge leader
    • attendance attendant (makes sure everyone has checked in on the attendance chart)

    Jobs can be rotated on a weekly basis, giving the student several opportunities to learn his or her job. Teaching responsibility is the key when assigning these jobs. Set it up so that the students come in at the beginning of the week and each has to check the job chart and learn if they have an assigned job.

    One classroom skill that preschoolers may struggle with is walking in a line. The sooner you press the issue, the easier the process will become. When standing in the front of our line, I would say to my students “One, two, three…..eyes on me.” They would respond “One, two…..eyes on you.” The goal was to get them all looking forward at me while in line. When I took over my preschool classroom, the previous teachers had line leaders who chose which line to do that day. It could be a doggy line, race care, or anything else the child chose. I did away with that practice to my older students, because once they enter Kindergarten, students need to learn how to walk in a straight, quiet line.

  • Transitions

    preschool classroomMany preschool students struggle with transitions. When a child is playing at home, he is usually left to finish a task before having to move on to another. When in school, there are set times when a child needs to stop what they are doing and move on to the next activity. There are several things a teacher can do to ensure students make smooth transitions between activities:

    • Keep a set daily schedule. Students need structure, and if a schedule is followed, they will better accept transitions. If students know that snack follows play time every day, they can often better accept clean-up time. Routines help the day run smoothly.
    • Use a timer. If you have a group that has a difficult time transitioning from one activity to another, use a timer to count down the last five minutes of an activity. You may also want to use a timer during clean-up time. Preschool students often have difficulty focusing on cleaning up, and the timer gives them a goal and a finite time to complete their task. I had a clean-up song that we would play during clean-up and the room needed to be cleaned before the song was over. There was no punishment if we didn’t clean it up in time, but that was always our goal. As the class learned the song, they soon knew how to pace themselves and could anticipate the end of the song approaching.
    • Change location. If possible, change locations for different activities. It may help to have one room for play time and another for quiet work sessions. This helps set the tone for the activity and students can identify a particular room with an activity.
  • Conclusion

    Classroom management is all about planning. Every class is different; your class may be different from one day to the next. One absent student can make all the difference. Take the time to look at the needs of your group and take note of times when they need more guidance. Know when to take a step back and allow them to figure things out for themselves. As a preschool teacher, one of your goals is to get your students ready for Kindergarten and the structure of a classroom setting. Use the opportunities presented during the day to challenge your class to grow and develop their classroom behaviors.