Let’s face it, even if you love your job, it comes with its challenges. The students take their time getting used to you, the teacher you’re subbing for doesn’t always leave you prepared, and often you may feel like you’re just winging it.
So, if you’re feeling stressed out, here are some quick ways to achieve a little relaxation and peace as a substitute educator.
When you’re subbing, you’re stepping into someone else’s classroom. But that doesn’t mean you have to step into their teaching style or attempt to do things just as they did. It’s challenging to emulate another person -- and there’s no need to! Students may point out how their teachers tend to do things, but they often appreciate it when you acknowledge that you’re your own unique person. Bring your own flair, ideas, and personality to lesson plans, relax into the adventure of the unknown, and know that you’re the best teacher when you’re being yourself.
Ask for help
There’s no need for your first days at a new school to be overwhelmed with unknowns. Reach out to the school’s other staff members, introduce yourself, and be proactive in getting any support you need to do your best work. This will help you build your social network at the school and help make sure you’re constantly learning from your fellow teachers.
Make new friends
It may be tempting to keep your head down and just get your work done. But your substitute teaching positions are great opportunities to meet people. And, you guessed it -- friendships are great stress relievers -- strong, positive relationships can boost your immune system and even help you live longer! Show your fellow teachers that you’re up for new connections -- be open and friendly, ask them about themselves, and join them during school events and downtime in the faculty lounge.
Keep a gratitude journal
It’s easy to get bogged down by little annoyances -- the bus is late, the classroom is tricky to find, the students are too rowdy. Focusing on what your grateful for can boost happiness and even have positive effects on your health. Start each day by writing down some of the good stuff: small successes (like getting the class to quiet down on the first try), the picture a student drew for you, or the exciting opportunity you have to work in a new classroom.
You can also incorporate thankfulness with your students. Ask them to share what they are thankful for, in their lives, in their school, and in their friends.
Being even a little dehydrated can increase your stress levels and lead to a bad cycle: stress can cause dehydration and dehydration, in turn, can cause more stress. So, when you’re heading into the classroom, bring a reusable water bottle to help you build a healthy water habit.
Get more sleep
Sleep can be tricky -- especially when you are up late prepping for your class or getting up early to greet the very first students who arrive. But the less sleep you get, the more stressed out you are. Practice good sleep hygiene, like going to bed at the same time every day or developing a before-sleep ritual. This will help you get the 7 - 9 hours that you need each night to be that much more refreshed in the classroom.
You’ve heard about mindfulness. Everyone from Google’s leadership team to Oprah is on the mindfulness train -- and with good reason. Not only does practicing mindfulness help you reduce stress, it also helps boost your memory, improve your focus, and even increase your levels of compassion, all of which will help you when you’re subbing. You can start out just by sitting in silence for a few minutes taking deep breaths or paying attention to the info you’re getting from your senses.
Anything we missed? Share your stress relief tips in the comments!