Let’s face it. As much as you love it…teaching abroad can be downright stressful! We can’t always control what life throws at us but we can control how we react to it. We all have those days where we’ve exhausted ourselves after preparing for a complex new lesson, just to get to class to find a room full of uninterested students. Maybe they’re being loud and antsy, or they just can’t seem to concentrate because they’ve got other things on their minds. This can be very discouraging and you may very well feel your blood pressure slowly rising. Before you explode, use some of these tried and true quick stress busters that were given to me by some of my fellow English teachers!
1. ¨In through your nose and out through your mouth¨ – This old school method does the trick every time. Each one of the TEFL teachers I interviewed gave this as their #1 go-to stress buster. Breathing slower produces a calming psychological effect on your nervous system. This action sends a message to your brain to stop producing stress hormones and the lack of these hormones quickly relaxes you. It’s highly effective and you can even do it with the class!
2. ¨Just keep swimming…just keep swimming¨ – Another colleague highly recommended positive thoughts to get through a stressful situation. He said that whenever his students are unruly he takes the stress and frusturation he feels and focuses it on the positive activities going in on his class. For example, he commends the students who are paying attention to the lesson and quietly doing their work. Therefore, it highlights good examples for the other students to follow and it helps him change his mindset from negative to positive.
3. ¨29 mississippi…28 mississippi…27 mississ….¨ Counting backwards was also high on my colleagues’ list for quick stress busters. They said this exercise paired with the other two was the perfect combination. It gave them time to relax and refocus on the task at hand.
These three were the most popular at my school, but there are many others! Find what works best for you…and use it! We’ve all been students and we know there is nothing worse than sitting through a class with a stressed out teacher. As a TEFL teacher, know that no matter what lesson you have planned for the day, positivity is the best thing you can share with your students.
Contributing Writer: Monica Bixby