How to Not Quit Teaching: 4 Tips to Help Teachers Reduce Stress & Enjoy Their Jobs More by Michael Linsin

Career Education
a month ago
How to Not Quit Teaching: 4 Tips to Help Teachers Reduce Stress & Enjoy Their Jobs More

Four of every 10 new teachers leave the profession within five years. That is a staggering number. It’s made all the more alarming given that teacher shortages in the U.S. are expected to exceed 300,000 by 2020. Although low starting pay, large class sizes and lack of autonomy are certainly factors, most of the reasons for dissatisfaction are within the teacher’s control. 

That isn’t to say that it’s their fault. Teacher education programs do a terrible job preparing teachers for the realities of the classroom, and individual schools and districts aren’t much better. But with the right knowledge and commitment, anyone can have a long and happy career. Here’s are some ways to achieve that:

1. Be an expert in classroom management. 

This is by far the most important thing you can do to begin enjoying your job. When students are well-behaved and attentive, everything is easier. Your confidence soars, your stress plummets and the work becomes deeply satisfying – despite the craziness and politics outside your classroom walls. Student time on task increases dramatically and even test scores are positively affected. When you get a chance, check out my books (see links below) and guides as well as over 500 articles that explain the strategies you need to thrive in even the toughest schools.

2. Say no. 

It can be hard to say no, especially if you’re a new teacher eager to please. But politely declining committees or after-school programs you’re not required to join can save mountains of time and actually garner you more respect. Saying no to gossiping colleagues, students who want to hang out during recess and parents who want to discuss their child’s progress every other day can be especially liberating. It can afford you the time you need to think, take breaks or just sit and breathe. 

You can also say no to doing for students what they can do for themselves – which is far more than most teachers realize – and to kneeling down to reteach what you taught just minutes before. By focusing on your core responsibilities, which mainly consist of presenting excellent lessons and setting students up for success, you become much more efficient and effective. You’re also able to leave work at a decent hour, which is key to No. 3.

3. Take care of yourself. 

According to the American Federation of Teachers, 61 percent of teachers say their work is always or often stressful. Other studies indicate even higher numbers, as many as 93 percent. This underscores the importance of not only becoming an expert in classroom management and learning to say no, but taking care of yourself and seeing to your personal life. You must get away from even thinking about teaching for several hours each day and limit, if not downright eliminate, any weekend catch-up work.

  • Adequate sleep, of course, does wonders.
  • Spend quality time with friends and family or on hobbies and interests outside of education.
  • Laugh and enjoy your life. Make this your focus. Teachers who view their profession as just one part of their life are happier and more effective than those who get sucked into a culture of obsession.

4. Fight back. 

You don’t have to be a martyr who sacrifices health and happiness for your students, parents, principal, school, society or anyone else. You don’t have to work your fingers to the bone, stay late after school or be frustrated with every new change in policy and curriculum or yet another responsibility thrown onto your plate. You don’t have to endure daily misbehavior and disrespect.

It’s a myth that has become an institutional habit that you have to concern yourself with things out of your control, perpetuated by miserable teachers and controlling administrators who want to keep everyone else down in the muck or under their thumb. But you do have to fight back. You do have to be determined. You do have to shrewdly and unapologetically do what is best for your students, your career, and your long-term health and family. 

It’s doable for anyone.

For more on how to eliminate stress and become more efficient so you can spend fewer hours at work, check out The Happy Teacher Habits.

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Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Wow, what an awesome tip! My sister, Kathy Ast-Kutzbach , left teaching, so I can see how these insights are necessary in this profession. My mother taught for her entire career, which is amazing. I don't know if I could do it. Teachers are the real MVPs! Thank you for sharing this with us, Michael Linsin . Welcome to 30Seconds. We are excited to learn more from you!
Michael Linsin
It's my pleasure, Elisa! Thank you!
Renee Herren
I’m so glad you are here Michael Linsin! Reading “Dream Class” last year helped me survive my first year teaching 4th grade after teaching special education for 13 years! The info shared in this tip is invaluable! After classroom management, I think being able to say, “No” is so important. I wish I would have learned this earlier in my career. Thank you for sharing and welcome to 30Seconds!
Michael Linsin
Thanks Renee! I agree. It took me several years to learn, but saying no can make a big difference.
Kathy Ast-Kutzbach
That is quite a statistic- 4 out of 10! I left after 3 years so I understand. Inadequate classroom management is a huge part of burnout, as is overextending oneself with too many additional tasks/activities. People were always asking me to do something extra- coach a sport or sponsor a student group. So many students also wanted to talk during my free period or after school that I went back to school to become a social worker! Great tip- if we could keep more good teachers in the profession, students would certainly benefit.
Gwen Johnson
We've all gotta support our teachers. Love this advice and am in awe of anyone who sticks it out in the teaching profession these days. My hats off to all the teachers out there.

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