Energy Level: Low or High?
As a school administrator, I conduct interviews each year to fill holes in the ever-evolving faculty at our school. Each time I meet a teacher candidate, I ask them many difficult questions about teaching pedagogy, classroom management, and lesson planning, however what I am really looking for is passion and energy. Have you ever met a teacher that absolutely loves teaching and wants to make a difference in the world? Their energy is contagious! A school administrator is always hopeful that this energy will rub off on any teachers who may forgotten why they became teachers in the first place. According to Shawn Achor‘s book “The Happiness Advantage,” your attitude can have a huge impact on how successful you will be in your given profession. Hiring passionate teachers can give your faculty a shot in the arm, but how can we help teachers who may be succumbing to the stress of the job?
As students deal with an increasingly stressful environments at home and school, programs like mindful schools have found their way into many American schools. According to www.mindfulschools.org, students are bombarded with toxic stress in today’s schools, but what about teachers? I would argue that with the demands that are placed on teachers in today’s classrooms that they need this type of program as much as the students do. Teachers will be unable to maintain a healthy level of passion for teaching if they do not employ strategies to deal with the stress that comes with the job. Shawn Achor recommends at least 5 minutes of daily meditation to raise levels of happiness, lower your stress, and even improve your immune system function.
Faculty Room Safe Haven
The faculty room is an important place in every school. This is where teachers come to diffuse some of the tense situations that they have been dealing with during the day. Our school’s faculty room was clean and functional, however some adjectives that new teachers had used to describe it have been subpar to say the least; “dark,” “a cabin,” “a dungeon,” and “Napoleon Dynamite’s basement.” No matter how you cut it, we understood that we needed to make a change. As we updated furniture, color, and other design aspects, we contemplated the question, “What kind of faculty room will reinvigorate our staff to go back outside and do their jobs with passion?” Our faculty decided to get rid of some furniture to simplify and organize the room. Next, they put up inspirational messages for teachers to view about teaching. Shawn Achor calls this “infusing positivity into your surroundings.” Now we hope our faculty room will be described as “fresh,” “positive,” and “fun.”
Random Acts of Kindness
My dad used to tell me as a kid that if I appeared unhappy, that it was because I was to busy thinking about myself. His advice has stuck with me to this day. Whenever I feel stressed, overwhelmed, and generally unhappy, my first go-to activity is to complete some random act of kindness. It can be giving a friend or family member a kind note, paying for someone’s groceries, or even providing people you work with an unexpected treat. This same strategy can be implemented in school settings with teachers and if you can create a culture where teachers perform random acts of kindness with each other, then your school will definitely be on their way to creating an environment that help your staff recharge.
Maintaining the Advantage
Ensuring that teachers deal with stress effectively while working in a positive environment, will help teachers maintain the competitive advantage that happy workers enjoy. Stress will never go away, so it is imperative that teachers understand effective strategies to mitigate the negative effects of stress in their lives. If teachers can develop habits to utilize strategies like these, then their battery will be recharged, their smiles will always be genuine, and their passion for teaching students will always be there.
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