Teaching can be an incredibly stressful job, making it important for educators to know how to relax! An overview of simple relaxation exercises is must-have for new teachers and classroom veterans alike. What to do when final exams loom and students are trying your patience:
Slow it down with some music
Having a selection of relaxing music that students can listen to while engaging in bookwork, worksheets, or tests is as much of a treat for you as for them. Students focusing on the music while working on their assignment may be less likely to rapid-fire questions your way, giving you a bit of a break. Additionally, the soothing music will help you calm down directly or give you a boost of energy needed to power through the rest of the period.
Keep a stash of healthy refreshments ready, especially favorite beverages
Teaching, especially when it involves walking, writing, and lecturing all day, can make you tired and parched. It’s hard to relax when you’re tired and parched if you don’t have anything handy to return some pep to your delivery. Many teachers invest in a mini-fridge or other snack-containing space to keep some nutritional fuel close at hand. And stopping to retrieve a refreshing drink may also serve as a subtle hint to needy students that you need a break.
Call for a cool-off period
When students are getting too hyped up or too needy, don’t be afraid to raise your hand and tell everyone to be cool. Students need to know that it is important to ask questions or seek the teacher’s attention in an orderly fashion. Allowing yourself the simple relaxation technique of taking a breather reinforces decorum and patience among students. Let them know that you are there to help them but that you are in charge of the flow of the classroom.
Make and use a comfy perch
Many teachers are told to not spend their time behind their desk, which is good advice, but what to do when you’re tired? Instead of retreating behind your desk, which may be in the far corner of the room, consider in investing in a cushioned, elevated stool that allows you to “perch” in front of the room in a semi-relaxed pose. This allows your feet to rest without you being seen as a desk-jockey.
Particularly at the end of a grading period, such as a semester, many students are full of desperate questions. To avoid being overwhelmed, require students to write their questions on a notecard that they can put in a box. When you check the box you will read their question or comment and get back to them. This notecard system allows you to relax at the beginning and end of each class without having to be bombarded by a flood of queries.
Maintaining a sense of humor may be the best insulator against apathy and burnout. Don’t be afraid to keep some good, wholesome humor, be it your favorite book, poster, website, or other form of funniness, close at hand. Having a momentary chuckle, or even a grin, may be relaxation enough to make it through another class period.
Bring a book from home and read it during lunch or your conference period to unplug. Immediately shifting from teaching to grading during your free period can be stressful, so spend a bit of time relaxing with a good book first. A book allows you to relax without having to stare at the same computer screen you stare at while grading or handing e-mail correspondence, making it a pleasant respite.