Make going #BackToSchool stress-free!

After a long (and hopefully!) hot summer you may be thinking about the new term ahead. To make sure #backtoschool is as painless as possible we look at what you can do to manage your workload and avoid stress in the year ahead.

So how do you feel about starting the new term? Is this year going to be different from previous years? Have you got a new planner that you absolutely, definitely will keep up-to-date?

Perhaps you have found yourself a brand new selection of colour-coordinated files that you will maintain throughout the year, so you know exactly where everything is when you need it?

But just what have you done to prepare yourself? Preparing your health, your wellbeing and your energy might be just as important as any prep you have done for your students. Here are some ways to help manage your workload and avoid stress in the year ahead.

Manage your work day

There will always be more to do than there is time to do it. Prioritise and talk to your line manager if you cannot physically do all that is being asked of you. They should be able to provide some support. Make sure you always take a lunch break and limit checking emails to twice a day. Try to minimise unnecessary meetings – could the issue be solved or discussed with a simple phone call or email – and keep those that need to happen on track with an agenda.

Learn how to say no

Do not over commit yourself – teachers are a conscientious bunch and it is tempting to always say yes to everything asked of you.

Planning and paperwork

It’s important to build up a bank of readily accessible resources that will engage the students without too much reliance on you and your materials. Do not fall into over-planning lessons. Reports can also mean a heavy workload over a short period of time, particularly if you have multiple classes. Try to plan ahead, ask for help if it’s needed and develop a ‘statement bank’ that you can use as a starting point.

Prioritise and avoid procrastinations

According to YouGov research commissioned by Ratesetter, we spend nearly four hours a day putting off tasks we know we should be doing. The research showed that on average we spend 218 minutes a day procrastinating, which equates to a loss of 55 days a year. Just imagine what you could do with another 55 days?

One of the easiest ways to stop your procrastinating is to get into the habit of doing the task you least want to do first or in other words “eat the frog first”. This will not only mean that you will not waste part of your day worrying about something you do not want to do, but is also likely to give you a huge sense of achievement for getting the task out of the way.

Enjoy the autonomy

Teachers often feel as if they are just churning through the work and feel over directed. But many have more autonomy than they realise, particularly in class. Make your lessons enjoyable for yourself and students, tell the stories you want to tell and include activities you want to do. Ignore the stay-late culture and don’t be afraid to politely ask for time off if you have an important family event.

Stay positive

Make a conscious decision on what you want your attitude to be each day, reminding yourself of it throughout the day. To this end, avoid negative people or, as one of the people who delivers our training sessions describes them, beware the “dementors”. We have all met these negative people taken straight from Harry Potter: those that somehow suck any positivity from the room as soon as they enter. Often, we might be feeling positive or excited about our day, but as soon as we come into contact with one of these people, they make us focus on the negative and suddenly our positivity is gone. Avoid these people at all costs.

Balance your energies

As we all know, the school year is a marathon not a sprint. Hopefully, we all feel refreshed and recharged after the holidays, but how can you maintain this feeling? You need to balance your energy and you can do this by paying attention to your physical needs: nutrition, exercise, rest and sleep.

Find time and space

Create some time and space for reflection – not only to think about your approach at work, but also your personal life and relationships. Get up 30 minutes earlier, or take 30 minutes when you get back from work, to sit and be calm.

Actively change your state of mind when you go home

Take fresh air, exercise or enjoy a nice, hot bath. Try to leave the anxiety and worry of the day behind at school. Physically separate your home life from your work life. If you can, leave your books, marking and assessments behind. If you do have to take them home, leave them in a room where you can close the door when you have finished, and make sure this is away from where you sleep. Have different email and social media accounts for your home and your work. 

#TimetoTalk
Make sure you have someone you can talk to about work-related issues. Meet regularly to talk, focusing on solutions to problems rather than just dwelling on the problems themselves. Make sure these are constructive sessions rather than mutual whinging sessions which can reinforce negativity. 

If you are stressed and reach a crisis point you can call the Education Support Partnership 24/7 helpline for free and confidential advice. Our trained counsellors will listen to you without judgement and will help you think through the problems you are facing to find a way forwards and to help you feel better. Call 08000 5626561.

How we can help

  • Help for individuals  
    Sometimes work (or just life) can be tough. A challenging student, an Ofsted inspection, personal financial worries; there are many stresses on those who work in education. That’s why we offer free, confidential help and support, no matter what your problem.
  • Help for organisations 
    Working in education is demanding so we’ve designed a set of services to help you check how your teams are coping, troubleshoot problems and boost everyone’s wellbeing.