The fact that teaching is a stressful job is well documented. Each phase of the teaching career brings its own level of stress. Student teachers do not have the benefit of years of experience to help them deal with day-to-day classroom issues. Thus, they are not only facing the stress of teaching while going to school but they also have to deal with classroom situations while trying to line up a job upon graduation. No wonder they can often have health issues during this time in their life. The purpose of this article is to first look at all of the things that cause stress for student teachers, and then to provide them with ideas to help relieve at least some of this stress.
Causes of Stress for Student Teachers
- Classroom Management - Many student teachers list classroom management and discipline as a major cause of worry for them. Even if they have a wonderful teaching assignment where the students rarely misbehave, there is always a fear that once they are in their own classroom students might get out of control. Further, if they are teaching in a class that has behavioral management issues, this can be a daily cause of stress and grief in their life.
- Coursework - Many student teachers still have to complete coursework while they are in their practicum teaching assignments.
- Being Observed - During this time, the new teacher will have many formal and informal observations. This can definitely lead to stress and worry.
- Searching for a Job - While teaching and completing schoolwork, many individuals will also be submitting resumes, searching for their first teaching job, and participating in teacher interviews.
- Fear of Not Finding Work - This fear can be quite real, especially during difficult economic times. Graduating teachers will probably have to compromise on location and situation to get their first job.
- Relocation and Life Changes - Moving from college to the 'real world' can be a scary, albeit exciting, proposition. Further, the new teacher will most likely be moving to a new home in a new city.
- Dealing with Student Social and/or Emotional Problems - Sometimes, student teachers will be faced with students dealing with personal issues. It can be very easy to become emotionally involved in these issues and this can lead to even more stress for them.
- Personal Issues - Add onto all of this, personal issues that the teacher might be facing, and it is easy to see why they are often so stressed.
Ways to Relieve Stress
- Exercise - The endorphin release goes a long way to warding off stress.
- Keep a Journal - Writing down your worries and concerns can help lessen and even resolve your fears.
- Read Positive Advice and Stories - Books and websites can be extremely helpful, as long as you stick to the positive ones. The "Chicken Soup" books are wonderful in providing inspiration and encouragement.
- Sleep - Make sure that you are getting enough sleep. Sleep allows your body and mind to regenerate, making you better able to approach each day in a positive light.
- Spend Time With Friends - Take time away from teaching and spend it just enjoying the company of good friends. Make a vow not to talk about negative things while out with your friends.
- Pray/Meditate - Prayer can work wonders. Further, meditation is known to truly calm the soul, allowing you to approach situations from a much better place.
- Take Some Time for Yourself - Treat yourself from time to time. Maybe you can take a nice long bath or put in your favorite movie and just relax for a bit. Whatever it is, carve out some time for yourself.
- Laugh - Laughter has been linked to many major benefits. Find reasons to laugh more. Watch your favorite comedy, go to the local comedy club, or just hang out with someone who you know always gets you laughing.
- Use All the Resources at Your Disposal - Most Colleges and Universities provide students with a wealth of resources. Things you might find useful include job search and resume writing advice, discussions with your professors about classroom situations, visits to the school's counseling center, and much more. Ask questions and make full use of these free resources.
- Additional Stress Relief Ideas - Check out this ever-growing list of stress relievers to try