Teaching kids day in and day out is a rewarding career, and many teachers will tell you that they love their job. After all, as a teacher you get to make a direct impact on the kids that you teach, and hopefully instill some values in them that they otherwise might not get. On the other hand, teaching a classroom of kids can also be quite stressful. We all know there are always a handful of students who will make your job a little more challenging than you expected. The key is in knowing how to reduce your classroom stress, and refocus your students on the lesson at hand. Here are 10 things that you can do to reduce stress in your classroom today.
1. Add laughter to your classroom.
Laughter is good medicine. It tends to unplug stress in you and your students, and gives your students a sense of togetherness, as they have your sense of humor in common. There is a delicate balance to adding laughter to the classroom and having that laughter get out of control, so be ready to bring your students back into focus quickly.
2. Build self-esteem in your students.
Students who suffer from a low self-esteem will sometimes opt themselves out of even trying to learn in the classroom. If they live in a home environment where all they hear is that they are stupid, they will start to believe this, and the effort will dwindle. Try some activities that help build a child's self-esteem, such as looking for ways that students can have leadership roles in the classroom, talk to students one-on-one and show an interest in their work habits, and incorporate easy questions into tests, in-between harder questions, so students with a low self-esteem can feel good about their answers.
3. Provide effective discipline measures.
When dealing with the topic of discipline in your classroom, you should have effective discipline measures. You may have rules for behavior in your classroom, but may quickly come to find that not every rule works with every child. You have to learn what discipline strategies work for different students. This will make the classroom less stressful. For instance, sitting in the back of the classroom may work for "Johnny" because he doesn't like the negative attention that is drawn to him, while it won't for "Jake" who thrives as the class clown. Perhaps giving "Jake" an extra writing assignment will work best for him.
4. Add creative movement to your classroom.
When it looks like your class is about to get out of control, come out of the blue with a movement exercise that will get them out of their seats for a moment or two. You might be surprised at how much better they will listen when they sit back down. Quick movement exercises might include: " 10 jumping jacks " Quick jog around the classroom " Deep breathing exercise It can be anything that just gets the body moving for one to two minutes.
5. Keep paperwork organized.
As students are handing in their homework assignments, tests, permission slips, and other classroom paperwork, have them write the number that corresponds to their number in your grade book in the top right corner on their papers. This will save a lot of time in keeping your paperwork organized.
6. Post a Top-10 List.
Keep students motivated to keep their attention on lesson plans by developing a Top-10 list every week. Simply post the top 10 students in your class for the week based on their test/quiz scores, consistency in handing in homework on time, participation in class, and any other factors you want to keep track of. The reward for being on the Top-10 list for a given week can mean that those students can choose their own seats or have a free night of no homework the following week.
7. The Scrolling Marquee Technique.
If you want to reward those students who are well behaved in your class and set an example for other students to follow, try this unique method. Set your classroom computer to a marquee screensaver and display a child's name who is doing well in class. Change the name every day. Kids will be wanting their name to be on the computer, too.
8. Use hand signals.
Nothing distracts a class more than interruptions. The use of hand signals is a popular method among teachers to communicate with students without interrupting the class. Simply have students raise their hands to answer a question as usual. If a student needs to use the bathroom, they can raise their forefinger in the air. If they need to get a tissue, they can raise two fingers. You can come up with your own system, but it works well. To answer the child you can shake your head "yes" or "no," and that will be the end of it.
9. Incorporate "Do Now" activities.
In order to keep kids focused during class, take five minutes to have them perform a "Do Now" activity. This is where you write a quick assignment on the whiteboard. It can be an assignment that reviews a past lesson, or whatever you want. Give the students five minutes to complete the assignment, while you time them. It will help you assess your student's knowledge of a lesson, and it gives them an incentive to get the work done.
10. Make an attitude adjustment.
When you feel yourself becoming stressed in the classroom, try to think of the situation as a challenge. Keep a positive attitude and realize that you cannot control everything that happens in your classroom, but you can react to situations proactively. Students will eventually follow your lead when they are in your room.