If you are a teacher, you are probably already feeling the pressure of testing time, and it isn’t even April! I have started getting messages from teachers who are too busy to think about what they might want to do next year career-wise. They are in simple survival mode.
And I get it.
During my last 20 years of serving as a library media specialist at the elementary school level, I served two schools. The first school struggled for the first year or two after testing mania took hold in Virginia, but once we figured out what we needed to do and we actually had a curriculum to follow, we got accredited and it was fairly smooth sailing each year. Teachers were concerned, of course, and the spring drill began there just like it does most other places, but nobody was losing sleep worrying about whether the school would meet accreditation standards.
That changed when I changed schools in 2001. I moved from a fairly affluent suburban community to a Title I school with a majority minority population. The year I arrived was the year after the school had finally reached accreditation status after years of being on the state department’s list of “failing schools.”
The photo below sums up how most of my colleagues felt for half of the school year.
In fact, I recall the tension beginning to build as early as February…months before the tests were to be administered. The climate on our campus changed dramatically. You could feel the tension as though it were a palpable substance. Teachers worried…would they be able to get their kids through this year or would we go back to being blacklisted by the state?
I was there for eight years, and that anxiety from February through June never stopped. Each year, teachers and administrators brainstormed new ways of trying to drill the standards into the children so they would pass the standardized tests.
I wasn’t a classroom teacher, so during each spring testing season, I was called upon to proctor. It always made me sad. I watched the teachers fret and the children struggle. The students all knew on some level that the stakes were high. They tried very hard. And each year, from 2001 until I left in 2008, they managed to pass, but that never alleviated the concern that they might not.
This is the time when stress really ramps up for teachers. They begin to lose sleep, staying up late making lesson plans or grading papers, or brainstorming ways to get their kids to understand better what they need to know for the tests.
They begin to eat more because they are stressed out. They begin to forget about exercise. Who has time? They start to gain weight but are too busy to do anything about it.
They leave off getting together with friends for the same reason. They are just too busy and preoccupied to be very sociable.
I get it. I’ve lived it. But here is what I know for sure. Taking on the weight of the world during this season will maybe mean the difference of a point or two on a student’s test, but it could ultimately make you sick.
Stress gone unchecked can raise your blood pressure, cause early onset diabetes, bring on heart attacks, and gastrointestinal issues.
This is the time of year when you need to take better care of yourself. It is more important now than ever!
Download my FREE eBook, Stressed, Stretched, and Just Plain Overwhelmed: a Guide to Managing Your Stress and Creating a Greater Sense of Work-Life Balance.
I can’t guarantee that you will feel as stress-free as this woman:
But I can guarantee that you will learn some strategies that may help you cope more effectively during these last few months of school.
I also invite you to attend a live, FREE workshop entitled, “Stress Management Tools for Teachers.”
To register, click here.
During this 60-minute class, you will learn more about the seven specific strategies that I recommend for you in the book. These are strategies for you to practice not just during the spring testing season, but all year long. You need to take care of your health! If you wind up sick, what happens to how your students prep for their big tests that are coming up?
Don’t let the testing season bring you down! “Do your best and forget the rest” as Tony Horton says. You need to be present for your spouse and your own children, after all. Heck, your students will be negatively affected if you are stressed out and cranky because you feel overwhelmed with work responsibilities.
So what do you say? First download the free eBook here.
Then sign up for the workshop, “Stress Management Tools for Teachers” here or click the button below.
Photos by Shutterstock.
Until next time.